Tag Archives: Plaintive Cuckoo

Malaysian Pied Fantail feeding a juvenile Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.


Contributed by Seng Alvin. 1st September 2015

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo Seng Alvin

This morning at the Tampines Eco Green, I came across an adult Cacomantis cuckoo, one of the three resident Cacomantis cuckoos here. I managed just one shot before it flew deeper into the woods. Unfortunately it was not facing me and I could not captured the underside. It has a greyer back, light eye ring and a wee bit of rufous up to the throat. Based on these features, I identified it as the Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, C. Sepulcratis.

Then my attention was drawn to another cuckoo nearby, this one a juvenile. It is much harder to separate the juvenile birds but luckily the yellow eye-ring was showing well, and it was confirmed by others as a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.

Jv RB Cuckoo Seng Alvin

The interesting part was that the adult cuckoo did not bother to interact with the juvenile bird at all never mind trying to feed it. Maybe it just wanted to check if it is doing fine, as it left the fostering, incubation and feeding to other species, typical of these parasitic cuckoos.

The juvenile must have fledged recently as it was able to fly from branch to branch looking for its foster parents. At this hanging vine, it was looking left and right flapping its wings and calling loudly at the same time.

Fantail with Jv RB Cuckoo Seng Alvin

Its cries for food was soon rewarded when a Malayan Pied Fantail Rhipdura javanica, flew in and started giving food to it. Both species shared the same forest edge habitat close to mangroves and about the same size. An ideal parent species for the cuckoo but a bit unfortunate for the fantail.

Footnote: Tou Jing Yi thinks that the adult bird is a Plantive Cuckoo C. Merulinus. The eye ring is not yellow enough and that there is some grey on the breast of the adult bird. When I compare this with another adult Plaintive Cuckoo I took at Pasir Ris Park some time back, the eye and ring color of both birds looked the same. Thanks to Sifu Tou Jing Yi, Shirley Ng and Alan OwYong for their discussions and comments on the ID.