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cuckoo

cuckoo, common name for members of the extensive avian family Cuculidae, including the ani and the roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), widely distributed in temperate and tropical regions. Cuckoos are slender-bodied, long-tailed birds with medium to stout down-curved bills, pointed wings, short legs (except in the terrestrial species), and dull (usually grayish brown or rufous) plumage. They are generally insectivorous and arboreal.

Of the parasitic Old World cuckoos, the common European cuckoo, Cuculus canorus, is typical. The female visits the nests of smaller birds, selecting those whose eggs match hers in color, and replaces an egg of the host with one of her own; she usually lays four or five eggs, each at 48-hr intervals and each in a different nest. Because the female can retain an egg inside inside its body longer, leading to internal incubation, the embryo is more developed when the egg is laid. The young cuckoo, hatching earlier and being larger than its nest mates, displaces them from the nest and becomes the sole recipient of its foster parents' care.

Each species of Old World cuckoo has its own unique pattern of parasitism, and different species choose different host species for their eggs. The cuckoo is referred to in the Bible, by Aristotle and Pliny, in mythology, and in English poetry. Its nesting habits have given us the word cuckold, and its simple but musical song, which gives it its name, was used by Beethoven in his Pastoral Symphony and is also imitated in the cuckoo clock.

The American cuckoos look like attenuated pigeons; they are not parasitic and build flimsy nests of twigs. Typical are the black-billed and yellow-billed (Coccyzus americanus) cuckoos, known for their low, chuckling call notes. They frequent and breed at the edges of deciduous woodlands, either species tending the young of the other. These birds are valued as destroyers of harmful insects—particularly the tent caterpillar, which few other birds will eat. There are also western and southern species.

Most gregarious of the cuckoos are the anis of the American tropics. The groove-billed ani, from 12 to 14 in. (30–35 cm) long, has black plumage with a faint purple gloss. Anis nest colonially, several females together laying as many as 25 eggs in the same nest, and they may breed at any time of the year.

Of the ground cuckoos, the roadrunner, or chaparral cock, of the southwest deserts is best known. It feeds mostly on small snakes and lizards, which it pounds to death with its heavy bill and swallows headfirst. The roadrunner speeds over the ground at up to 15 mi (24.14 km) per hr with its long tail extended horizontally, its head down, and its ragged crest erect. Roadrunners are weak fliers and nonmigratory. They build coarse nests in thorny bushes; because they lay at intervals, both eggs and young may appear together in the nest.

Also included in the cuckoo family are the coucals, medium to large in size, slow-flying, mostly terrestrial birds of the tropics from Africa to Australia, e.g., the black concal, Centropus grilli. Cuckoos are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Cuculiformes, family Cuculidae.

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"cuckoo." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cuckoo." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cuckoo

"cuckoo." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cuckoo

cuckoo

cuckoo many cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of small songbirds; the cuckoo fledgling, once hatched, pushes the songbird fledglings out of the nest, giving rise to the phrase cuckoo in the nest (see below).

In Britain the first call of the cuckoo (a migratory bird) is traditionally a sign of spring.
cuckoo clock a clock that strikes the hour with a sound like a cuckoo's call and typically has a mechanical cuckoo that emerges with each note. It is often popularly associated with Switzerland, as in the lines added by Orson Welles to Grahame Greene's screenplay for The Third Man (1949 film), ‘In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce…? The cuckoo clock.’
cuckoo in the nest an unwelcome intruder in a place or situation.

See also cuckold.

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"cuckoo." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cuckoo." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cuckoo

"cuckoo." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cuckoo

cuckoo

cuck·oo / ˈkoōkoō; ˈkoŏkoō/ • n. 1. a medium-sized long-tailed bird, typically with a gray or brown back and barred or pale underparts. The cuckoo family (Cuculidae) also includes roadrunners and anis. 2. inf. a crazy person. • adj. inf. crazy.

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"cuckoo." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cuckoo." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cuckoo-1

"cuckoo." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cuckoo-1

cuckoo

cuckoo Widely distributed forest bird. Related species are the ani, road runner and coucal. Noted for parasitic behaviour. Their chief food is insects. True Old World cuckoos are generally brownish, although a few species are brightly coloured. Length: 15–75cm (6–30in). Family Cuculidae; genus Cuculus.

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"cuckoo." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cuckoo." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cuckoo

"cuckoo." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cuckoo

cuckoo

cuckoo. Simple 2-note wind instr., imitating call of the bird, used in Toy Syms.

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"cuckoo." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cuckoo." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cuckoo

"cuckoo." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cuckoo

cuckoo

cuckoo XIII. — OF. cucu (mod. coucou); of imit. orig.

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"cuckoo." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"cuckoo." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cuckoo-2

"cuckoo." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cuckoo-2

cuckoo

cuckooBaku, raku •haiku • Shikoku • cuckoo

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"cuckoo." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"cuckoo." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cuckoo-0