Little Bronze Cuckoo processing a hairy caterpillar

Lena Chow’s video clip of the Little Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx minutillus) handling a large hairy caterpillar was taken at Singapore’s Pasir Ris Park on 25th March 2011.

The cuckoo was meticulously rubbing the caterpillar against the bark of a tree to rid it of the numerous hairs covering the latter’s body. At the same time the bird was moving the caterpillar along its length while still clamped tightly between its mandibles. This was to rid it of its stomach contents.

The Violet Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) has been reported earlier to vigorously swing caterpillars clamped tight between its mandibles to kill them as well as to rupture the skin so as to get rid of the stomach contents LINK.

According to Payne (1997), cuckoos are mainly insectivorous. They specialise on the noxious, brightly coloured and hairy caterpillars that are generally avoided by other insect-eating birds. Despite their efforts at removing the hairs of the caterpillars before swallowing them, the stomach of these cuckoos are often lined with such hairs.

Lena Chow
October 2011

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.

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