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Blue-faced Malkoha

Phaenicophaeus viridirostris

The blue-faced malkoha (Phaenicophaeus viridirostris) or small green-billed malkoha, is a non-parasitic cuckoo found in the scrub and deciduous forests of peninsular India and Sri Lanka. It has a waxy, dark, blue-grey plumage on its upperparts and has a long tail with graduated white-tipped feathers. The throat and chin are dark with spiny pale feathers that are branched. The lower belly is a dull creamy to rufous colour. The bill is apple green, and a naked patch of blue skin surrounds the eye. The sexes are alike. The blue-faced malkoha is a bird of open forests and scrub jungle. Like all cuckoos, malkohas have zygodactyle feet, two toes pointing forward and two to the back. A largish species at 39 cm, its back and head are dark grey with an oily green or blue gloss, and the dark tail has graduated feathers tipped with white. The belly is pale ochre to grey. The feathers of the chin and throat are branched (unlike in Phaenicophaeus tristis) with the branched tips being pointed and slightly yellowish giving the throat a streaked and spiny appearance. There is a large blue patch around the eye, with a white fringed red iris, and the bill is apple green. The sexes are indistinguishable by external appearance. Birds from Sri Lanka have a broader white tip to the tail feathers. Malkohas are generally very silent but will sometimes produce a low croaky kraa when flushed. Young birds have dull and non glossy upperparts and some brown feathers in their wing.
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Blue-faced Malkohas on Birda

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Profile picture for Andrew Goodall
Andrew Goodall
28 Jan 2024 - 4:11pm
Sri Lanka
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