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Leptosomidae – Cuckoo-roller

Cuckoo-roller in Madagascar: Photo by Jean-Sébastien Guénette

The Cuckoo-roller, the sole member of the family Leptosomidae, inhabits the forests of Madagascar and the Comoros. With its strikingly iridescent plumage—males are metallic green and females brown and spotted—this bird is easily distinguished. They are powerful fliers, often seen gliding through the canopy in search of insects and small vertebrates. Their unique, slightly hooked bill aids in catching prey, and their loud, distinctive calls echo through their forested habitats.

Overview of Leptosomidae

Despite its name, the Cuckoo-roller shares no close evolutionary ties with cuckoos or rollers. This unique bird, the sole member of its family, showcases striking sexual dimorphism. Males resemble large cuckoo-shrikes with light gray and black plumage, accented by greenish iridescence in the wings, while females are light brown with extensive black and dark gray barring and spots. Known for their loud whistled screams, Cuckoo-rollers are often heard from afar and commonly seen across their range. However, much remains to be discovered about their breeding biology, presenting intriguing opportunities for further study.