|Conservation status||Least concern|
As the name implies, the African cuckoo-hawk bears a superficial resemblance to the unrelated cuckoos. Its wingspan is about 3 feet, with an overall body length of 16 to 18 inches. Like other members of the genus Aviceda, it bears two distinctive tooth-like notches near the edge of the bill, and a crest of feathers at the top of the head. Legs are short and stout, and bear powerful talons.
Males are blackish-brown in color above, with a grayish color on the crown, mantle, cheeks, throat and upper breast. At the base of the neck is a chestnut-colored patch. Tail is black, barred in gray, and tipped in white. The underside of the wings are white with black bars, with the underwing coverts chestnut. The belly is white with broad chestnut bars. Females are browner, with the chestnut bars on the belly paler in color.
- Aviceda cuculoides batesi
- Aviceda cuculoides cuculoides
- Aviceda cuculoides verreauxii
The African cuckoo-hawk occupies evergreen forest and deciduous woodlands up to 6,000 feet elevation, both within the forest interior and edges, and often being seen in suburban gardens. It is also seen in savannahs and open bush country during migrations in East Africa.
The African cuckoo-hawk feeds primarily on insects, reptiles and small birds, and usually from a still-hunting position on a perch within the forest or at the forest edge on a clearing. It has also been observed to search for prey on the wing, taking flying insects from the air or other prey on the ground.
The species begins breeding in late-summer, building small nests in the season which lasts from September until the following February, depending on location; it can occur in South Africa in September through March, while in western Africa it is June through August. Nests are constructed high in the forest canopy. Two red-blotched white eggs are laid, with both parents sharing the incubation, which can last just over a month. The feeding and rearing of the chicks until fledge takes an additional month.