Encounter with Rusty-breasted Cuckoo and Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo

on 15th August 2014

On 2nd February 2014, Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS was out birding with bird watching colleague and friend Connie Khoo around the limestone hills at the fringe of Ipoh in Perak, Malaysia.

Connie alerted Amar to the presence of a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo (Cacomantis sepulcralis sepulcralis) that was sitting silently in a tangled part of a tree. Once spotted, the cuckoo was not at all afraid of the birdwatchers and allowed a decent approach (above).

“The important distinguishing feature is the yellow eye-ring. Note that it can raise the head hackles and I think this is a sign of concern or distress as was more evident on close approach, compare close ups in the images above,” wrote Amar.

Connie similarly spotted the Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo (Hierococcyx nisicolor) (above), thus alerting Amar to its presence in the area. Amar returned to the area six days later and wrote, “…spotted what looked like a small raptor being chased by two bulbuls. Having seen similar events with Hawk Cuckoos I recognised this was the bird and followed. Another colleague mentioned that he had seen a White-throated Kingfisher chase the same bird two day earlier.”

“The features supporting the Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo in these images, as opposed to the Malaysian (Javan) Hawk Cuckoo (Hierococcyx fugax) include: lack of a clear white nape patch, narrow penultimate dark band on tail and greyish appearance of the back.”

For identification, Amar recommends the excellent: Cuckoos of the World, by Johannes Erritzøe, Clive F. Mann, Frederik P. Brammer and Richard A. Fuller. Helm, 2012. Also, he refers to two articles to assist in differentiation from the Malaysian (Javan) Hawk Cuckoo: Yong, D.L. (2008). Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo A Birder’s Nightmare. Singapore: Nature Society (Singapore) LINK and Con Foley. A Photo Guide to the ID of Malaysian & Hodsgon’s Hawk-Cuckoos LINK.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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