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Chestnut-breasted Malkoha2.jpg
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus curvirostris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Infraclass: Neognathae
Superorder: Neoaves
Order: Cuculiformes
Wagler, 1830

and see text

Cuckoo and Turacos range.png
Range of the Cuculiformes.

The near passerine bird order Cuculiformes traditionally included three families as below:

However, the taxonomy of this group is now controversial. The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy raises the Musophagidae to an order Musophagiformes which may or may not be warranted. The Hoatzin continues to be enigmatic; it is probably best regarded as a distinct, monotypic order, especially if the turacos are also considered one. The coucals and anis are sometimes considered subfamilies of the Cuculidae, or otherwise assigned to families of their own, the Centropodidae and Crotophagidae respectively.


The fossil record of this group is much debated. The unique anatomy of Cuculidae (in the old sense) often allows for the easy identification even of isolated bones. Cuckoos of prehistoric genera are known since the Late Eocene, some 40-35 million years ago. Turaco fossils are known from much later only.

A number of other Paleogene fossils have at times been assigned to the Cuculiformes, but they are not usually included here anymore in more recent treatments: The Late Paleocene to mid-Eocene Gracilitarsidae were at first believed to be cuculiforms but this is not generally accepted today. They remain mysterious though, due to their apomorphic anatomy, and might be close to the equally enigmatic Sylphornithidae known from the mid-Eocene to the Early Oligocene. From the Early Eocene, Parvicuculus and Procuculus might be Cypselomorphae of a hitherto unrecognized lineage. The genus Foro might be allied with the Hoatzin.

See also[edit]

List of Cuculiformes by population