Possible Dark Hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx bocki)

on 21st February 2022

Post 1.

I spent a few days at this hill station and saw Hawk-cuckoos twice (Posts 1 and 2 first bird seen on 20/11/2018, Posts 3 and 4 second bird in different lighting seen 21/11/2018).

Post 2.

Appreciate opinions on them. I think both birds I saw were the Dark Hawk-cuckoo; previously classified under the Large Hawk-cuckoo as Hierococcyx sparverioides bocki.

Post 3.

Sources that accept the Dark Hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx bocki) include:

  1. Johannes Erritzøe, Clive F. Mann, Frederik P. Brammer, Richard A. Fuller. Cuckoos of the World. Helm, 2012
  2. Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World 2018
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive 2018 (online edition)

But The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, 4th Edition retains it under the Large Hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx sparverioides).

Post 4.

Cuckoos of the World 2012 states that the Dark Hawk-cuckoo in comparison to the Large Hawk-cuckoo:

  1. Is considerably smaller
  2. Lacks white on the lores
  3. Generally darker

No calls were heard. Both were seen fairly early in the morning. In the first instance a pair of Mountain Bulbul (Ixos mcclellandii) were unhappy with the presence of the Hawk-cuckoo and chased it away.

Responses came from:

  1. James Eaton:

“First bird (juvenile), identified as bocki by lack of contrast between head and grey (not brown) upperparts, and lack of streaking on underparts. Second bird, appears to be a sub-adult, the darker lores is a good feature. Sub-adult Large would still show more streaking on the underparts too, and certainly appear more elongated and larger.
I don’t find them particularly darker, poor choice of English name, unfortunately.”

2. Tou Jing Yi:

“Looks like a Dark to me. Large felt more slender especially the head, looked more like a pigeon, and likely where the local expression of “Sewah Tekukur” comes from…….”

  1. Rosli Omar:

“I believe it is the Dark Hawk-Cuckoo. I have seen this bird quite a few times in Fraser’s Hill at the mentioned height. I don’t see any other possibilities.”


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Fraser’s Hill, Pahang, Malaysia

Habitat: 1300 m ASL, trail along primary montane jungle

Date: 20th November 2018, 21th November 2018

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld


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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