Bird Families

Little Cuckoo / Cuculus poliocephalus Latham, 1790


Latin name:Porphyrio poliocephalus
Additionally:European species description

Appearance and behavior... The largest of our herding birds, the size of a domestic chicken (body length 45-50 cm, weight 600-1 300 g). Differs in a slender physique, long legs with very long thin toes. The beak is massive; the top of the head in adult birds is covered with a large horny plaque.

It keeps in thickets of reeds or other high near-water vegetation, is secretive and cautious. Dexterously climbs the stems of plants, walks and runs, often climbs belly-deep into the water, but does not like to swim (although he can). It takes off reluctantly, usually flies low above the ground or water, the flight is quite easy, while the long legs protruding behind the body and wide, rounded wings are striking. Can run on water using wings. Sultans are sociable, often keep in groups of several individuals, including during the breeding season.

Description... The color is violet-blue, the beak and legs are from grayish-pink to bright red. The undertail is bright white, which is especially noticeable when the disturbed bird twitches its raised tail in a manner typical for many other shepherds. Young birds are much dimmer than adults, from a distance they look almost gray, with a whitish belly. Downy chicks, like all shepherd birds, are covered with black down, their beak is white, the naked skin around the eyes and on the crown of the head, and also the paws are red.

Vote... They are noisy, make a variety of squeaky, guttural or moaning sounds.

Distribution, status... Sultanka is a southern bird, the main habitats of which are in the tropics and subtropics. Here it can be found only along the coast of the Caspian Sea, to the north to the Volga delta. In cold winters, it migrates to the south, although it has settled in most of its habitats. A rare species included in the Red Book of Russia.

Lifestyle... It nests in dense, impassable reed beds. The nest is bowl-shaped, usually made of reed stems and leaves; its structure resembles a nest of a coot or moorhen. There are no more than 5 eggs in a clutch, they are of a variegated color (similar to moorhen eggs) and seem very small for such a large bird. Both parents incubate the clutch and raise the chicks.

Sultanka (Porphyrio poliocephalus)

General characteristics and field signs

In color of plumage it is similar to the deaf cuckoo, but noticeably differs from it in its smaller size. The flight is fast, straightforward. Sometimes undulating, with smooth descents and ascents ("diving"). It resembles the flight of a woodpecker and a carrier at the same time, it flies in a straight line, diving and fidgeting flapping its wings (Panov, 1973). In addition, the flying cuckoo is similar to the small sparrowhawk, but it has a sharp head and a long, rounded tail. A sitting bird has a raised tail, wings lowered, and during a cry it crouches ("bows").

The little cuckoo's voice is a loud monotonous, sometimes shrill trill, consisting of 5–6, rarely seven syllables. Oki are pronounced in a specific sequence: the first three syllables are more or less the same, and the rest with a different intonation. The cry is rendered as "tulle-tulle-tyu, tyu-tyutyu", or, according to L. M.Shulpin (cited from: Vorobyov, 1954), with the words "here and there te-tyukhe." In another transcription, as "kyikyekyu-kyikyekyu") (Jahn, 1942) or "teplen-kaketaki" (Austin, Kuroda, 1953). Whining is repeated up to 10 times and can be heard at a distance of up to 2 km. The female emits a screeching squeak-squealing, similar to the cry of a female common cuckoo, but sounding in a higher tone (Panov, 1973). Most often, birds keep on branches in the crowns of tall trees, from where a voice can be heard, but they often scream on the fly during flights over open areas. They are very careful and shy. A person is noticed from afar and immediately flies away.


Coloring. Sexual dimorphism manifests itself in the color of the plumage. In the male, the head, back and upper tail coverts are dark gray with a bluish tinge, indistinct streaks and a faint metallic sheen. Throat, goiter, ear coverts are gray. In some individuals, an ocher band (“necklace”) formed by ocher tops of feathers passes across the goiter, in addition, an ocher bloom is noted on the forehead, and sometimes on the throat. The chest and abdomen are white with black intermittent transverse stripes 2–3 mm wide. The lower tail coverts are white with an ocher tinge; some individuals have light (light ocher) spots on the outer webs VIII – IX, less often VII feathers (feathers counting from the carpal joint in the distal direction). On the underside of the secondary flight feathers there are white spots at the base of the inner webs. The fold of the wing is white with gray spots along the edges.

Tail feathers are black with white trunk spots, which are slightly elongated along the rods on the central feathers, and form intermittent transverse stripes on the outer ones. The top of the tail is white. The tail is stepped, the outer tail feathers are shorter than the middle ones by 40–45 mm. The bill is dark brown, the base of the mandible is yellow. The eyes are brown, the ring around the eyes is yellow. Tarsus and toes are brownish yellow, nails are light yellow.

Females are of two types. Gray females are similar to males, but they have mottles and a thick red plaque on their craw and chest. Rarely red-colored females are noted, which, in contrast to red females of the deaf cuckoo, have more rare stripes on the underside of the body (Yamashina, 1974).

Little cuckoo chicks lack embryonic pubescence. Their skin color is grayish pink. The mouth and tongue, except for the tip, are orange. The folds at the corners of the mouth and the apex of the tongue are bright yellow. The beak is light pink with a yellowish apex, the egg tooth is white. Legs are pale pink, claws are light yellow (Nechaev, 1972).

Birds in nesting plumage are similar to young deaf cuckoos in this plumage. Their back and upper wings are dark gray with narrow white fringes on the tops of the feathers and a faint ocher bloom. On the back of the back and on the upper tail coverts, the white edges are wider. On the head, the stripes are less pronounced, so the top of the head is slightly darker than the back. Some individuals have one or two white feathers and white spots on the feathers on the forehead and back of the head. The sides of the head are dark gray with white spots. Throat, goiter and upper chest are darker than the lower body, they are dark gray with white transverse stripes and spots. The underside of the chest and belly are white with black transverse stripes. The underwing coverts are white with black spots on the webs. Flight and tail feathers are dark gray with white transverse stripes, white tops on tail feathers are wide, on flight feathers - narrow.Reddish spots are noted on the outer webs of coverts. Legs are yellowish-gray, claws are light. The upper mandible is dark gray, the mandible is yellowish gray.

Seasonal and age-related variability of plumage color in this species has not been studied.


The formation of the nesting (first juvenile) plumage ends at the age of about 1.5 months. In it, birds fly away for wintering, during migrations and at wintering grounds, they molt in the first annual (second youthful) outfit. This molt is, apparently, partial, that is, during it, mainly small cover feathers are renewed. First-years probably do not take part in breeding; they begin a complete change of plumage into the final outfit in summer and end up in wintering. Due to the lack of collection material, the nature and sequence of molting of first-yearlings have not been studied. Full molt of adults - once a year, at wintering grounds.

The change of primary flight feathers occurs without a definite order and asynchronously on different wings. These flight feathers are replaced mainly from the extreme to the central feathers, while some of them (usually 2-3) fall out (or grow) at the same time. In wintering cuckoos, the primary ones were renewed in the following way. In a young bird (maybe a first year) from Sumatra Island, on the left wing VII, IV and I, feathers are new, II and IX have not yet reached the norm, the rest are old, on the right - IX, VII, IV and I are new, the rest are old ... In an adult male from the western regions of Java Island, on the left wing VII, IV, II and I are new, IX is absent, the rest are old, on the right - VII, IV and I are new, IX and II have reached the norm, the rest are old (Stresemann V. , Stresemann E., 1961). Secondary flight feathers begin to change, probably from the outer and inner feathers to the middle, and the tail feathers - from the central and outer ones (Stresemann V., Stresemann E., 1966). In six males caught in Primorye in June – July, all plumage was fresh, renewed during the wintering period (col. BPI FEB RAS and ZIN RAS).

Subspecific taxonomy

Polytypical view. Variability manifests itself in varying the size and color of the plumage. Three subspecies have been identified (Howard and Moore, 1980).

1.Cucuius poliocephalus poliocephalus

Cuculus poliocephalus Latham, 1790, Index Omith., 1, p. 214, India

Primorye, Korea Peninsula, China, Japanese Islands, northern Burma, Himalayas, Eastern Afghanistan.

2.Cuculus poliocephalus insulindae Hartert, 1912 - Kalimantan Island.

3.Cuculus poliocephalus rochii Hartlaub, 1962 - Madagascar Island.

The lepidus form, which has long been considered a subspecies of Cuculus poliocephalus (Vaurie, 1965; Stepanyan, 1975), is recognized as a subspecies of Cuculus saturatus (Becking, 1975, Wells, Becking, 1975; Howard and Moore, 1980).

S. p. Lives in Primorye. poliocephalus Latham is the lightest and largest subspecies.


Southeast Asia. Nesting area in South Primorye to the north up to 45 ° N. sh .. The northern border of the species range on the coast of the Sea of ​​Japan runs near the Ternei Bay (Elsukov, 1982). Inhabits the valleys of the middle and partly the upper reaches of the river. Arsenyevka and its tributaries, the vicinity of Arseniev, the valley of the upper course of the river. Ussuri - from the village. Chuguevka to the village. Upper Breevka, the valley of the upper course of the river. Pavlovka (a tributary of the Ussuri river) and the vicinity of the village. Kavalerovo (Nazarenko, 1971). Earlier (Spangenberg, 1940, Vorobyov, 1954) the cuckoo was indicated for the valley of the lower reaches of the river. Bolshaya Ussurka (village Iman), but later it turned out that these data are erroneous and refer to the Indian cuckoo (Spangenberg, 1965, Nazarenko, 1971). In the southwestern regions of South Primorye, the northern border of the range runs slightly north of the river valley. Komissarovka, flowing from the west into the lake.Khanka (Nazarenko, 1971, Nechaev, 1972). In addition, during the nesting period, the cuckoo was noted in the valleys of the Margaritovka (Shulpin, 1927), Partizanskaya and Rudnaya (Shulpin, 1931) rivers, in the Khasansky region, in the valley of the river. Razdolnaya, near the cities of Vladivostok, Artyom, Ussuriisk and in other places of Southern Primorye (Vorobyov, 1954, Nechaev, 1972, Panov, 1973).

Figure 55. The range of the little cuckoo in South Primorye
a - nesting area

To the hall. Peter the Great breeds on Bolshoi Pelis Island (1 "pair"), but not every year, and, probably, on Popov (Labznzh et al., 1971) and Putyatin (data by V.A.Nechaev).

Vagrant birds were observed on the Middle Amur on June 21, 1963 in the Tigrovaya Pad tract on the slope of the ridge. Daur (Smogorzhevsky, 1965) and June 6, 1977 in the valley of the middle reaches of the river. Bidzhan (Smirenskiy, Smirenskaya, 1980), as well as July 3-5, 1984 on the southwestern coast of Cape Krillon on Sakhalin Island (data by Yu. N. Glushchenko and Yu. B. Shibnev).

Outside of Russia, the species nests on the Japanese islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, Izu, flights have been recorded on the islands of Sado, Tsushima, Yakushima, Ogasawara, Iwa, Rykyu, etc. (Check-list of Japanese birds, 1974). Inhabits the Korea Peninsula, in the northeastern, central and southern regions of China to the west to the upper reaches of the Yellow, Yangtze and Mekong rivers. Further west - in India on the southern slopes of the Himalayas from Assam to Jammu and Kashmir and Eastern Afghanistan. Breeds in Northern Burma, as well as on Kalimantan and Madagascar Islands (Vaurie, 1965, Stepanyan, 1975, Cheng Tso-Hsin, 1976, Howard, Moore, 1980).

Figure 56. The area of ​​distribution of the little cuckoo
a - border of the nesting area, b - insufficiently clarified border of the nesting area, c - wintering area, d - nesting area. Subspecies: S - Cuculus poliocephalus, poliocephalus, 2 - C p. insulindae, 3 - C. p. rochii


At nesting sites in South Primorye, birds appear in the second half, most often in the third decade of May. Depending on the "course" of spring, their arrival continues until the end of the first decade of June. In the Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve, the first cuckoo calls were recorded on May 24, 1963 and May 27, 1960 (Panov, 1973), in the south of the Khasan region (Slavyanka settlement) - on May 19, 1912 (Chersky, 1915). On the islands in the hall. Peter the Great migration was observed in the third decade of May – early June (Labzyuk, 1971). In the southwestern regions of Primorye (the Komissarovka river basin), the voices of the first birds were recorded on May 24, 1970, May 25, 1967, June 4, 1972, and June 9, 1969 (data by V.A.Nechaev). On Honshu, the first birds were recorded in mid-May (Jahn, 1942).

Autumn migrations - at the end of August-September. In the valley of the river. The young cedar bird was caught by A.A. Nazarenko on September 12, 1960 (Panov, 1973, col. ZIN RAS). In September, birds also leave Japan (Jahn, 1942).


Inhabits open landscapes in lowland and low-mountain forests. In the south of Primorye, the most characteristic habitats of the little cuckoo are river valleys occupied by sparse elm-broad-leaved and small-leaved forests, copses and groves alternating with glades, meadows and agricultural lands. In addition, there are slopes and ridges of low hills covered with tree-shrub and shrub-herbaceous thickets under the canopy of sparse oak-deciduous forests. Readily settles in thickets on the outskirts of fields, meadows and pastures.

Near the lake. Hassan cuckoos nest in open woodlands of toothed oak and in tree-shrub thickets of hazel and lespedets. In the valley of the river. Razdolnaya - in sparse oak forests with vast meadows covered with shrub-herbaceous thickets and forb meadows.Near the Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve, they inhabit forest edges along river valleys and large streams and forest outskirts, near the coastal plain (Panov, 1973). At the northern limit of the range near the lake. Khanka prefers valley elm-poplar-willow forests with dense shrub-herbaceous thickets, alternating with agricultural lands, as well as floodplain small-leaved (willow, etc.) forests and shrub thickets along the banks and islands of rivers. Dense shrub-herbaceous thickets under the canopy and on the outskirts of sparse forests are characteristic biotopes for the host species of the eggs of the little cuckoo, the short-winged warbler.

In Japan, it inhabits sparse forests bordering on the cultural landscape, in particular pine forests with shrubs, and occurs up to an altitude of 2,000 m above sea level. sea ​​(Jahn, 1942).


Lepidoptera caterpillars (Noctuidae, Geometridae, etc.) form the basis of food for the little cuckoo, whose remains in three stomachs of males caught in June – July in southern Primorye accounted for 90–95% of sightings. In addition, the remains of carpenter ants (Camponotus sp.) And beetles were found. Breeding chicks are fed by insects, mainly Orthoptera (Orthoptera), penny leafhoppers (Aphrophoridae) and their larvae, spiders (Aranei) and lepidoptera caterpillars (Netschajew, 1977). The stomachs of two fledglings contained the remains of lepidoptera caterpillars, including silkworms (3 specimens in one of them) and locusts (Acrididae). Food is sought on the leaves and branches of trees, less often on the branches of shrubs and herbaceous plants, and even less often on the soil surface.

Analysis of 59 stomachs of cuckoos caught in June-July in the central regions of Honshu Island showed that their main food was Lepidoptera caterpillars, up to 90% of sightings. Lepidoptera caterpillars of the following families prevailed: Geometridae - 33.9%, Notodontidae - 29, Umanthriidae - 15.5, Arctiidae - 8.1, Noctuidae and Lasiocampidae - 6.5 each, Puralidae, Sphingidae and Zygaenidae - 4.5 each, Nymphalidae - 1.6%. The remains of other insects were also found: ants (Formicidae) - 22.6%, beetles - (Scarabaeidae) - 3.2%, adult long-legged mosquitoes (Tipulidae), adult horseflies (Tabanidae), dragonflies (Odonata) - 1.6% and kivsyakov (Diplopoda) - 1.6% (Ishizawa, Chiba, 1966). Causes of mortality and changes in numbers. Mortality from enemies and diseases has not been clarified.In Southern Primorye, there is an irregular fluctuation in the number of the species, which is explained both by its habitat on the periphery of the range, and by the fluctuation in the number of the main species-educator of chicks - the short-winged warbler - within the range. So, in the valley of the river. Komissarovka in 1967, 1969 and 1972 - in years of low abundance of warblers, a low abundance of cuckoos was also recorded (one male on the 10 km route), and in 1970, in a year of high abundance of warblers, cuckoo warblers were more common (2–3 males per 5 km).

Bletilla: description

Bletilla is a soil-based, slow-growing orchid. It has wide and thin folded leaves of a light green color. They reach 30 cm in length and about 7 cm in width. 3-5 pieces of linear leaves grow from each pseudobulb. During the wintering period, they fall off.

The flowers are located on elongated peduncles. They appear in early spring. They are small in size, painted in a pinkish-lilac shade, and their lip is dark purple. Collected in inflorescences, each of which contains 3-7 buds.

Types of bletilla

The main types of orchids and their description:

  • Striped (hyacinth, variagated)... Popular varieties are Shi Ran, Kutibany, Blue Dragon, Purple. The striped bletilla resembles exotic gladioli. Flowers can be purple or white.It does not differ in winter hardiness, therefore, from late autumn to spring, the plant must be covered when grown in open ground.

  • Bletilla striata alba... The variety of Murasaki Shikibu is in demand. Bletilla striata is actively used in the manufacture of various cosmetics. This species is a perennial shrub with spike-shaped inflorescences. The flowers are white in color.

  • Brown-yellow... This orchid is also called ocher due to the color of its petals. Forms small bushes. Peduncles can grow up to 0.4 m. Flowers are small, ordinary in shape. A feature of this type is that the loose buds have practically no aroma.

Note! All types of bletilla bloom for a long period. On average, it is 30 days. However, it largely depends on the conditions of detention and compliance with the rules of planting and further care.

Indoor cultivation of bletilla

Bletilla can be grown not only in the garden, but also at home in a pot. The table below provides guidelines for its content.

  • turf and leaf land, humus, peat, sand (2: 1: 1: 1: 1),
  • peat, loam, coarse sand (2: 1: 2).

Open field cultivation of bletilla

Bletilla will be a wonderful decoration in the garden. But it can only be grown outdoors in temperate climates. In areas with cold winters, it is best to plant it in a pot and expose it to the garden in the summer. The plant has the following requirements when grown outdoors, consider them in the table.

Reproduction of Bletilla orchid

Bletilla can be propagated by seed and by dividing the rhizome. However, the first method, as a rule, is used only in laboratory conditions, because it requires sterility, which cannot be created at home.

The division of the bush is carried out in the spring when planting in open ground or transplanting. The plant must be cut so that there are 3-4 pseudobulbs on each division. Wounds from cuts should be treated with an antiseptic, sprinkled with wood ash or cinnamon powder. After this, the delenki should be planted in a permanent place.

Bletilla orchid pests and diseases

The orchid is not susceptible to disease. However, when kept outdoors in summer, insect pests may appear:

  • nettle infusion,
  • a decoction of rhubarb,
  • laundry soap solution,
  • infusion of tobacco and dandelion, onions, marigolds, yarrow, tansy,
  • wormwood decoction.

  • manual collection,
  • dusting bushes with mustard, hot pepper, a mixture of wood ash and baking soda,
  • dusting with tobacco powder.


Bletilla is an ornamental plant that can decorate both a flower garden and an apartment, private house or office. It is very simple to take care of it, it does not require a lot of effort and time, special tools and equipment. That is why it is popular even with beginners in floriculture.

Planting and leaving

Planting marsh oak in garden plots requires compliance with the same conditions - soil composition, soil moisture or constant watering even of mature trees. Freshly planted trees are recommended to be watered daily, 3-4 days. As the seedlings take root and mature, watering is done less often, but it should be regular to maintain approximately the same soil moisture. For mature trees, irrigation is calculated according to the scheme of 12 liters of water per 1 sq. meter of crown.

When purchasing seedlings on the market, you need to carefully examine them for the presence of powdery mildew damage, necrosis of the trunk, branches. Seedlings can be grown independently, from well-ripened acorns. They must be stored in constantly moist river sand if spring disembarkation is expected. For autumn planting, acorns are sown, after drying them in the air. As soon as spring comes, young seedlings and acorns planted in the fall, as well as adult trees, must be fed with a specially prepared mixture of mullein (1 kg), urea (10 g), ammonium nitrate (20 g) with the expectation of a bucket of water ...

The natural conditions for swamp oak at the summer cottage will need to be constantly recreated and maintained. He needs deeply moistened soil, following the example of river and swampy banks. Then such a tree will be an excellent decoration for the summer cottage, will give the owners a luxurious shade on hot summer days.