Banded-bay Cuckoo chick and Common Iora in India

Abhijeet Avate from the state of Maharashtra, India wrote after viewing our earlier post on a juvenile Banded Bay Cuckoo (Cacomantis sonneratii) being fed by adult Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia).

“It was interesting to read your post as a couple of days back I found a Common Iora female feeding a seemingly large chick in its nest. The chick looked nothing like the Iora. I came online to check and found your post. The chick I observed looks like a cuckoo juvenile.”

Abhijeet subsequently sent in images of the iora and the cuckoo chick taken in the forest of Panhala Fort in Maharashtra (below).

The images were sent to our wildlife consultant R Subaraj who wrote, “The large chick is certainly a cuckoo. Not certain of species but based on the heavy barring on its upperparts, it may be a Banded Bay Cuckoo. This cuckoo is also present in Singapore and its local host is also the Common Iora.”

According to Payne (1997), the Banded-bay Cuckoo parasitises the nest of the Common Iora in India. The eggs of the cuckoo mimic those of the iora – white with sparse reddish brown marks. They are only slightly larger than those of the iora – 18.5 x 14.5 mm compared to 17.5 x 13.5 (Robson, 2008). The chick of the cuckoo will eventually evict the host’s eggs and chicks, leaving the adult ioras to work extremely hard to feed the much larger cuckoo chick.

Abhijeet Avate & R Subaraj
Maharashtra, India
November 2010

Payne, R.B., 1997. Family Cuculidae (cuckoos). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 4. Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp.508-607.
2. Robson, C., 2008. A field guide to the birds of South-east Asia. New Holland, London.

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