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Species Guide
A photo of a Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus)
Jacobin Cuckoo

Jacobin Cuckoo

Clamator jacobinus

The Jacobin cuckoo, also known as the pied cuckoo or pied crested cuckoo, is a medium-sized, slim bird with a distinctive black and white plumage and a crest. Its striking appearance is characterized by a white wing patch on the black wing, which is particularly noticeable in flight.

Identification Tips

When observing the Jacobin cuckoo, look for its black and white coloration and the prominent white wing patches and tail edges during flight. The bird's crest and the pattern of its plumage make it unmistakable among its avian peers.


This species favors thorny, dry scrub or open woodland, typically avoiding dense forests or extremely arid environments.


The Jacobin cuckoo is found south of the Sahara in Africa and south of the Himalayas in India, extending to Sri Lanka and parts of Myanmar. It is partially migratory, with some populations moving seasonally.


During the breeding season, these birds are quite vocal and engage in aerial displays, including slow wing-beats and pigeon-like clapping flight. They are known for their brood parasitism, laying eggs in the nests of other bird species, particularly babblers.

Song & Calls

The Jacobin cuckoo's call is a series of ringing whistling notes, described as "piu-piu." The calls vary slightly between subspecies, with the nominate form's calls being more rapid and slightly mellower.


As a brood parasite, the Jacobin cuckoo does not build its own nest but instead lays eggs in the nests of host species. The eggs of this cuckoo often match the color of the host's eggs, aiding in the deception.

Similar Species

While the Jacobin cuckoo is quite distinctive, it may be confused with other black and white birds in its range. However, its unique wing pattern and behavior during the breeding season usually set it apart.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Jacobin cuckoo primarily consists of insects, including hairy caterpillars. They have a unique method of pressing caterpillars to remove their guts before consumption and will also eat fruits occasionally.

Conservation status

The Jacobin cuckoo is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of population decline or extinction.

Jacobin Cuckoo Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Jacobin Cuckoos on Birda


Similar species

A photo of a Levaillant's Cuckoo (Clamator levaillantii)

Levaillant's Cuckoo

Clamator levaillantii

More Cuckoos

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