Violet Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus)

Violet Cuckoo
(Male Violet Cuckoo taken at Jurong Eco Gardens, October 2013. Photo by Alan OwYong)

We are fortunate to have all the four SEA species of the Chrysococcyx Cuckoos in Singapore. Unfortunately there was only one record of the Asian Emerald Cuckoo C. macutalus ( Upper Seletar 31 May 2006 TKC) and the Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo C. basalis is a rare summer visitor from Australia and hard to find.

The most common is the Little Bronze Cuckoo ( C. minutillus) which can be found in the country side. That leaves the uncommon Violet Cuckoo, the subject of this blog.

The male is one of the most striking looking cuckoo and a poster bird for many photographers. It has a glossy dark purple back with a barred underside contrasting with a bright orange bill.  Like all cuckoos, they depend on foster parents to bring up their youngs, Sunbirds are the main host parents. Our resident species are mainly found in the central core forests supplemented by winter visitors during the migrant season. They look the same but prefer open woodlands and forest edges.

Violet Cuckoo
(Female Violet Cuckoo taken at Neo Tiew Lane 2 in August 2013. Photo by Francis Yap)

Most of the time you will hear the loud sharp whistle before you see them flying high up across the sky.  If you are lucky you may see one perched on the highest dry branch of a tall tree. So when Lee Van Hien posted a photo of one he shot at eye level at the Jurong Eco Gardens, the birding community went into an overdrive. The Cuckoo found a small patch of Leea indica that is infested with caterpillars its favorite diet. The feeding takes place in the morning apparently up to 10 am. The last time ( apart from Francis’s sighting) this Cuckoo was seen so low was at Pasir Ris Park on January 2008 where many of the great photos were taken.

Ref: The Avifauna of Singapore. Lim Kim Seng 2009.

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