The black cuckoo is a medium sized cuckoo. The plumage varies by subspecies, Cuculus clamosus clamosus is either almost entirely black with a white buff on the chest or entirely black; Cuculus clamosus gabonensis is mostly black with a red throat and black and white barring on the belly.

Habitat and Distribution

The species is distributed widely across sub-Saharan Africa. The subspecies Cuculus clamosus gabonensis is a resident in Central Africa, whereas the Southern African subspecies Cuculus clamosus clamosus is migratory.


It breeds in Southern Africa in September to December, then moving in March to Central, Eastern and West Africa. The black cuckoo is a brood parasite. Its main hosts are bushshrikes, particularly the tropical boubou and crimson-breasted shrike.