Taxonomic Question 1: Oriental Cuckoo species name

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Taxonomic Question 1: Oriental Cuckoo species name
From: "Philip Griffin" <>
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2006 00:37:42 +0930

For those interested in such matters:

I've noticed that a paper from last year
King. 2005. Bull. Brit. Ornithol. Cl. 125(1):48-55
elevates the 3 former subspecies of Oriental Cuckoo to species status.
King uses the names Himalayan Cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus), Sunda Cuckoo
(Cuculus lepidus) [resident Malaya, Greater & Lesser Sundas] and
Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus horsfieldi).

Alan P. Peterson, at

"Unfortunately, King does not discuss the nomenclatural situation
surrounding optatus Gould/horsfieldi Moore, and treats the taxon as
Cuculus horsfieldi Moore, 1857. Schodde and Mason 1997, have argued
that Cuculus horsfieldi Moore, 1857 is a junior synonym of Cuculus
optatus Gould 1845. Until I am aware of arguments that counter Schodde
and Mason's position, I follow their interpretation."

Dutch birding, Vol 28, No 1, take the same view regarding optatus over

O.K., so that means Cuculus saturatus, Cuculus lepidus &
and Cuculus optatus.

But does King imply that both saturatus and optatus (although he calls it
horsfieldi) winter in Australia?

"C. (s.) horsfieldi and C. (s.) saturatus winter from southern India
east and south to New Guinea and Australia."

And does that mean there are 2 species of "Oriental Cuckoo" in Australia?


Philip Griffin

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