Sirkeer Malkohas or Sirkeer Cuckoos

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Sirkeer Cuckoos or Sirkeer Malkohas

The Sirkeer Malkoha or Sirkeer Cuckoo (Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii), is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis, and the Hoatzin. It is a resident bird in the Indian subcontinent.


All of the sub-Himalayan Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka; patchy in Pakistan and Rajasthan. Sometimes considered as three races, varying in colouration.


  • Size: A largish bird at 42 cm.

  • Appearance: Mainly earthy brown and rufous in colour, and the long heavy tail is edged with prominently white tipped graduated cross-rayed tail feathers. An obvious relation of the Coucal (Crow Pheasant). Bill is hooked, bright cherry-red and yellow. Males and females look alike, but juveniles are duller and barred above.

  • Habitat: Largely terrestrial, open scrub and thorn jungle, deciduous secondary jungle. Singly or in pairs.

  • Behaviour: Stalks about amongst thickets like Crow-Pheasant, searching for food; insects, lizards, fallen fruits and berries, etc. Runs swiftly through undergrowth looking like mongoose. Feeble flier, but ascends trees rapidly, hopping from branch to branch with great agility, like the Coucal.

  • Call: Normally a subdued "bzuk... bzuk" ; also an alarm call of "p'tang" with a metallic quality.

  • Food: A variety of insects, caterpillars and small vertebrates. It occasionally eats berries.


This cuckoo, like other Malkohas, is non-parasitic.

  • Season - March to August (varying with latitude)

  • Nest: a shallow saucer of twigs lined with green leaves, in a thorn bush such as Euphorbia, or sapling 2 to 7 m up.

  • Eggs: 2 or 3, white, with a chalky texture.

The scientific name of this bird commemorates the French botanist Jean Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour.

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