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The Melluishian Cuckoo
Newsletter for Birdwatchers, viii, p.9, February, 1968
Gift Siromoney

In the February (' 68) issue of the Newsletter, a letter of Mr Stewart Melluish (dated February ' 67) was reproduced with a diagram of an unidentified cuckoo, and it closely resembles a bird which I have often seen here in Tambaram -- not far from Madras. The Indian Plaintive Cuckoo, in contrast to the Baybanded Cuckoo goes through two or three phases before it gets the adult plumage. The female which is dimorphic, is chestnut in one phase and becomes slaty grey in the other. These birds arrive in Tambaram in September and some of them stay on till April. Many just pass through on their way to Ceylon. Most of these birds are in the slaty grey phase but one or two chestnut birds are also regularly seen.

Some are found in an intermediate stage when they are getting transformed from chestnut to grey and one of these might have been seen  by Mr. Melluish. In the last week of February, I saw a Plaintive Cuckoo in this, intermediate chestnut and slaty grey phase, picking hairy caterpillars. These Cuckoos visit us regularly every year and they seem to like the scrub jungle and the open spaces of the Madras Christian College Campus.

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