The Malkoha’s Masquerade: Exploring the Alluring Clownlike Features of the Chestnut-Breasted Malkoha

A bright red mask, piercing pale eyes, upper mandible, with a red lower mandible give this bird a somewhat clownlike appearance.


“CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA” (cropped) by cuatrok77 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The chestnut-breasted malkoha (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris), is a species of cuckoo in the Cuculidae family. Measuring 42-49 cm (17-19) long, this bird has a relatively large curved pale yellow upper mandible and a darker red lower mandible, with a bare red patch of rough skin around each eye. The head is grey and the wings are dark green fading blue as the bird grows older.

“File:CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA (7237366016).jpg” by cuatrok77 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The bird’s underparts and rump chestnut, feet a dark grey.

The female is similar to the male, though the male has a pale blue iris and the female’s yellow.

Photo Courtesy of Evan Parker / CC BY-SA 2.0

This species is endemic to and found in Thailand and Myanmar, down through to the Malaysian peninsular into Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Bali Indonesia, and Palawan in the Philippines.

“CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA” by cuatrok77 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

These birds are found in moist tropical forests, mangroves, dry tropical scrublands, secondary growth areas, rural gardens, and plantations.

“File:CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA (7167611247).jpg” by cuatrok77 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Chestnut-breasted malkoha like to dine on insects, such as caterpillars, grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, cockroaches, and spiders. They will also take crabs, lizards, frogs, and young birds.

“File:CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA (7237364208).jpg” by cuatrok77 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Bucking the trend this Cuckoo actually raises their own young and don’t predate the nests of other birds. The nest is built by both parents, resembling a bowl of branches and twigs and leaves. 2-3 eggs are laid within and incubated by both parents for about 13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents too, becoming fledged after 11 days.

“Zanclostomus cirvirostris” by Dick Culbert is licensed under CC BY 2.0. This

This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be fairly common to common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

“File:Phaenicophaeus curvirostris 1.jpg” by Lip Kee Yap from Singapore, Republic of Singapore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

H/T Wikipedia – Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.