Sri Lanka Red-faced Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus Pyrrhocephalus)



When you are in the Sinharaja rainforest, suddenly you may hear occasional short, yelping whistles, low kra and hollowkok. This is the voice of the Red-faced Malkoha- which can be translated as "Flower cuckoo". Red faced Malkoha is a bird of dense forests, where it can be difficult to see despite its size and colour.

The Red-faced Malkoha is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes. This Malkoha species is endemic to Sri Lanka, primarily occurring in the wet zone rainforests and locally in the dry zone.

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 takes a variety of insects including caterpillars, giant stick insects, mantises and small vertebrates such as lizards. It occasionally may eat berries but this needs confirmation.

Unlike most cuckoos, this is a quiet species, making only the odd soft grunt. The presence of Red-faced Malkoha in the island is largely confined to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve and the surrounding vegetation, which is one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world. It nests in a tree, the typical clutch being 2-3 eggs. They are found in nearly half of the mixed-species foraging flocks in Sinharaja rainforest and surrounding area.