It is a slender cuckoo and the adult bird is easily identified by a yellow eye ring (slightly greenish in young birds), its generally dark slate-grey back and wings, becoming pale rufous below, with a boldly barred black and white under tail. Younger birds are duller and browner in colour. Juvenile dark brown above with dull rufous streakes, mottled whitish and black below and distinctly barred grey and brown. Voice: A mournful, descending trill. 'peeeeer' also a rising whistle 'p-whee'. Female gives loud 'chireee'.
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