The Birds of Lush: Green Malkoha

The Green Malkoha, of the Cuckoo family, is a bird of many names. Also known as the Green Coucal or Whistling Yellowbill, it has been spotted in and around Lush at Elaleni Coastal Forest Estate.

Its green back and tail is what may first attract attention, and that along with its fairly bright yellow beak and crimson eyes, it makes for quite a colour contrast. But what is more attention-grabbing is that the bird is a forage feeder who searches for food amongst the ground foliage, ground shrubs and at the base of trees, eating fruits and seeds as it goes. The diet of the Green Malkoha is not only restricted to fruits and seeds, it also has a predilection for insects like  butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants which the bird hawks while in the air then eaten.

What is quite surprising is that the Green Malkoha is not just a fruit, seed and insect eater, and its taste for birds’ eggs brings out the more aggressive and predatory side of this bird. It will attack smaller birds while they are in flight and viciously break their necks using its very sharp claws. The Green Malkoha has also been to attack birds in the same way while in their nests or on the ground. The Green Malkoha does not stop there and will also proceed to eat the eggs of its poor victims as well.

Despite this aggressive behaviour, the Green Malkoha is a monogamous bird, selecting a mate and breeding with that partner for life. They nest high in the canopies of trees in order to provide as much protection from predators as possible, with thick foliage and branches adding an additional layer of protection.

This interesting bird is often seen alone, or in pairs in its natural habitat- they are not social birds and do not move in great flocks. As a common bird of Southern African forests, the Green Malkoha has often been spotted in and around Lush and Elaleni.

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