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African Cuckoo-hawk Aviceda cuculoides
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Population justification
Population size likely to exceed 10,000 individuals (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.


Behaviour This widely distributed afrotropical species is largely permanently resident, but a proportion will make some seasonal movements. During April-November some individuals migrate northwards to East Africa, particularly coastal Kenya (del Hoyo et al., 1994) and during the non-breeding season (May-August) some will migrate down into Southern Africa (Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001), particularly the Transvaal highveld (del Hoyo et al., 1994). The species is also occasionally found in south-east Ethiopia (Brown et al., 1982). The breeding season varies by locality; in southern Africa it occurs during September-March; in West Africa it is during June-August; in Kenya it is during both March-June and November -February, following the onset of the rains (Brown, et al., 1982; del Hoyo et al., 1994; Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001). Its general behaviour is largely unknown, probably as a result of its low local densities and secretive habits (Brown et al., 1982). However, during migration individuals become slightly more conspicuous and thus may appear more numerous (Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001). Habitat This reticent species occupies the interior and edges of evergreen forest and deciduous woodlands, including suburban gardens and more open savannas, up to 3000m (Brown, et al., 1982; del Hoyo et al., 1994; Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001).  During migration through East Africa it also occupies drier woodland and bush (Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001). Diet The species feeds mainly on insects, reptiles and small birds (Brown et al., 1982). It mostly still-hunts from a perch, although it is known to hawk for flying insects and to actively search for prey (Ferguson-Lees and Christie, 2001).  Breeding Site Constructs small slight nests high in trees, including eucalyptus (Brown et al., 1982; Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). Management Information The species utilises interior forest, but is also observed in secondary growth and open edge habitats.  It is affected by the loss of forest habitat and is predated by larger raptors.  There are no records of it being affected by pesticides (del Hoyo et al., 1994).


It is affected by the loss of forest habitat and can be predated by larger raptors (del Hoyo et al., 1994). In South Africa it has been known to drown in small reservoirs on farmland (Anderson et al. 1999).  

Anderson, M. D.; Maritz, A. W. A.; Oosthuysen, E. 1999. Raptors drowning in farm reservoirs in South Africa. Ostrich 70(2): 139-144.

Brown, L.H., Urban, E.K. and Newman, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Harding, M. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Aviceda cuculoides. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - African baza (Aviceda cuculoides) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author Swainson, 1837
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 10,600,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change