African Cuckoo-hawk

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Image:African Cuckoo-hawk.jpg

Common Name: African Cuckoo-hawk Scientific Name: Aviceda cuculoides

Size: 15-16.5 inches (38-42 cm); Wingspan: 33.5-37.4 inches (85-95 cm)

Habitat: Africa; much of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal in the west to Cameroon, extending east across to Kenya, and south as far as Angola on the west coast and south-east South Africa on the east coast.

It is predominately a forest and woodland dwelling species. It is found in trees surrounding rivers, humid savannah woodland, eucalyptus and pine plantations and even suburban gardens.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 10,000 to 100,000 adult individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. It is affected by the loss of forest habitat and can be the victim of predation by larger raptors. Diet: Mainly large insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers and termites, and reptiles, such as snakes and lizards, but it has also been known to take small mammals, birds, fish and even crabs.

Nesting: Females are noticeably larger than males. The head, neck and upper chest are mainly grey, with a small, blackish crest at the back of the head and a thin chestnut patch on the nape of the neck. The remaining upperparts are mainly blackish-brown, with short, black tail feathers, marked with three grey bands and ending with grey-white tips. The most striking features of this species are its brightly colored eyes, yellow in the female and orange-red in the male, as well as its white underparts, which are distinctively patterned with a series of dusky bars. The juvenile is mainly brown above, with a white streak running above the eye, and white below, with an irregular patterning of dark blotches on the flanks and breast.

The breeding season coincides with the rainy season in the tropics and varies according to location, with southern African populations breeding from September to March, West African populations from June to August and Kenyan populations from November to June. During courtship, small groups of males form, and engage in soaring flights, turning in the air in order to display their plain or barred wing linings. Once breeding pairs are established, the male and female may also soar and circle around one another. The pair build an untidy nest in the fork of a tree, composed of leafy twigs, with a small, leaf-lined cup in the center into which two to three eggs are laid. These are incubated for around 32 to 33 days, with the chicks brooded for a further 30 to 42 days before fledging.

Cool Facts: The African Cuckoo-hawk is also called the African baza.

There are three subspecies which inhabit different locations and habitats, and can be distinguished by the coloration and markings of the plumage.

  • Aviceda cuculoides batesi has the darkest upperparts and heavily barred underparts
  • Aviceda cuculoides cuculoides has solid chestnut wing linings
  • Aviceda cuculoides verreauxi has distinctive white barred wing linings.

This 3D Model is found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume II: Hawks of the Old World

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