Levaillant’s cuckoo

Swooping down over the trail before me, an unusual bird silently glides on ahead into the scrub.  As I search for its perch, I see the hopping form through branches.  It pops into the open, sitting for a moment, and a photograph, before launching itself back down the track and into the heavy coastal scrub forest.

Levaillant’s cuckoo, Oxylophus levaillantii

I am able to get a good look at Levaillant’s cuckoo, a dove-sized bird with a long tail, two wing patches that flash white when it flies, and a shaggy crested head.  This one looks like a juvenile molting to adult colors, hence the mottled patchwork of charcoal and gunmetal gray plumage.   I think I saw one when I first arrived in Gabon years ago, in the same patch of forest, and have been watching for one ever since.  They seem to be a secretive, quiet bird.

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