Red Faced Malkoha

Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus

The red-faced Malkoha is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes. This Malkoha species is endemic to Sri Lanka.

This is a large species at 46 cm with a long graduated tail. Its back is dark green, and the uppertail is green edged with white. The belly and undertail are white, the latter being barred black. The crown and throat are black, and the lower face white. There is a large red patch around the eye and the bill is green. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are much duller.

The Red-faced Malkoha is a canopy species and prefers the tops of tall trees in thick, undisturbed forest as it has weak flight and glides more often than flapping. It occasionally glides to the forest floor, but only in areas of particularly dense undergrowth. The Red-faced Malkoha is described as a rather silent, shy, restless and sprightly dweller of tall forest canopy.

Dated records and gonadal examinations indicate that Red-faced Malkohas breed at least from January to May. The nest is usually described as a shallow saucer of grass, roots and twigs ‘carelessly’ put together, although what appears untidy to the human observer should probably not be anthropomorphised as careless; indeed, an untidy nest is probably better camouflaged.

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