Thursday, June 5, 2014

Vagrant Cuckoos (Family: Cuculidae) recorded in Sri Lanka

Birds that appear outside their normal range are known as vagrants. This post summarizes up to date published sight records of vagrants of the family Cuculidae (Cuckoos) in Sri Lanka.

1) Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus)
Peter Brown in his “New Illustration of zoology” figured this cuckoo stating that his specimen of the “spotted curucui” as having been sent from Ceylon by governor Loten (Legge V., 1880: 309 & Phillips, W.W.A., 1948). Legge remarked that “It has not, to the best of my knowledge, since been met with or heard of even in the island”. However type description of the Emerald cuckoo based on above painting (Phillips, W.W.A., 1948). Although several authors on Sri Lankan avifauna mention that Loten’s is the only record of its occurrence in Sri Lanka, Hue Nevill has given a sighting of an adult male near Rane, in the south-east Sri Lanka in 1866 (Wijesinghe, D. P., 1983 & Nevill, H., 1887). There is a recent sight record also of it in Sri Lanka by Upali Ekanayake in 2004, single bird in January and another (Probably the same bird?) in February at Sigiriya (Siriwardana, U., 2005)

     2) Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis)
Occurrence of this Coucal in Sri Lanka is base on a single specimen found by A.L. Butler in a collection of a native dealer, procured in the North Western province in April 1896. Wait doubted Lesser Coucal as a possible rare resident (Wait W.E., 1931:220).  Later on Philips noted a rather doubtful sight record in the jungle near Valaichchenai in the Eastern province in February 1947 (Philips W.W.A., 1978: 50). He believed it as a rare vagrant to the low-country dry zone. Ranasinghe also considered it as a possible rare vagrants to low lands (Ranasinghe, D.B., 1997)

Legge V., 1880. A History of the birds of Ceylon  1983 second edition.
Nevill H., 1887. Ornithological notes (Ceylon). Taprobanian, 2(5), 131-132.
Phillips W.W.A., 1978 Annotated checklist of the Birds of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1978 revised edition.
Phillips W.W.A., 1948. Cuckoo problems of Ceylon. Spolia Zeylanica, 25(2), 45-60.
Ranasinghe, D. B., 1997. Gaps on Field data for Sri Lankan Birds. Loris, 21(4), 170-172.
Siriwardana, U., 2005. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2004. Loris, 24(1&2), 33-35.
Wait W.E., 1931. Manual of the Birds of Ceylon. 2nd edition. Colombo Museum.
Wijesinghe, D. P., 1983. Notes on some Rare Sri Lanka Birds -1. Loris, 16(4), 205-208.

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