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Cuckoos are birds in the Cuculidae family, the sole taxon in the order Cuculiformes . The cuckoo family includes the common or European cuckoo, roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals and anis. The coucals and anis are sometimes separated as distinct families, the Centropodidae and Crotophagidae respectively. The cuckoo order Cuculiformes is one of three that make up the Otidimorphae, the other two being the turacos and the bustards.

The cuckoos are generally medium-sized slender birds. Most species live in trees, though a sizeable minority are ground-dwelling. The family has a cosmopolitan distribution; the majority of species are tropical. Some species are migratory. The cuckoos feed on insects, insect larvae and a variety of other animals, as well as fruit. Some species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species and giving rise to the metaphor cuckoo's egg, but the majority of species raise their own young.

Cuckoos have played a role in human culture for thousands of years, appearing in Greek mythology as sacred to the goddess Hera. In Europe, the cuckoo is associated with spring, and with cuckoldry, for example in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost. In India, cuckoos are sacred to Kamadeva, the god of desire and longing, whereas in Japan, the cuckoo symbolises unrequited love.


"Hototogisu" is the Japanese word for cuckoo, a bird which apparently in Japanese culture is a symbol of the netherworld - an infernal bird, a spook with wings.
  1. Any of various birds, of the family Cuculidae, famous for laying its eggs in the nests of other species; but especially Cuculus canorus that has a characteristic two-note call
  2. The sound of that particular bird.
  3. The bird shaped figure found in Swiss/German clocks (cuckoo clocks) or the clock itself.
  4. Someone found where they shouldn't be (used especially in the phrase 'A cuckoo in the nest'.)
  5. Someone who is crazy.

Brood parasitism

Some species of cuckoos are brood parasites. This behavior has led to the entry of the term cuckold into the English language, which describes a man with an unfaithful wife.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cuckoo" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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