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The Cuculidæ or Cuckoo Family

The koel (Eudynamis honorata) occurs on the Nilgiris and has been shot at Ootacamund. It betrays its presence by its loud ku-il, ku-il, ku-il. The common cuckoo of the hills is the hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius) or brain-fever bird. Its crescendo brain-fever, BRAIN-FEVER, BRAIN-FEVER prevents any person from failing to notice it. It victimises laughing-thrushes and babblers. It has a large cousin (H. sparverioides), which also occurs on the Nilgiris, and which likewise screams brain-fever at the top of its voice. Both species are like sparrow-hawks in appearance. The handsome pied crested cuckoo (Coccystes jacobinus), which cuckolds the seven sisters, is a bird easy to identify. It has a conspicuous crest. The upper plumage is glossy black, save for a white wing bar and white tips to the tail feathers. The lower parts are white.

The common coucal or crow-pheasant (Centropus sinensis) is a cuckoo that builds a nest and incubates its eggs. It is as big as a pheasant, and is known as the Griff's pheasant because new arrivals in India sometimes shoot it as a game bird. If naturalists could show that this cuckoo derived any benefit from its resemblance to a pheasant, I doubt not that they would hold it up as an example of protective mimicry. It is a black bird with rich chestnut wings. The black tail is nearly a foot long. The coucal is fairly abundant on the Nilgiris.