About Red-Faced Malkoha

The red-faced malkoha (Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus) is a bird in the Cuculiformes order of birds. This Malkoha species is only found in Sri Lanka.
At 46 cm, this is a large species with a long graduated tail. It has a dark green back and an upper tail that is green with a white edge. The belly and under tail are white, with black bars on the latter. The crown and throat are black, while the lower half of the face is white. The bill is green with a large red patch around the eye. The sexes are comparable, but juveniles are much duller.

Caterpillars, giant stick insects, mantises, and small vertebrates such as lizards are all prey for the red-faced malkoha. It may eat berries on occasion, but this needs to be confirmed.
Unlike most cuckoos, this one is a quiet species, with only the occasional soft grunt.

Where Are They Live?

Red-Faced Malkoha | Habitat Map

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Megalaimidae
Genus: Psilopogon
Species: P. Rubricapillus
Binomial Name: Psilopogon Rubricapillus

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It is endemic to Sri Lanka, despite the fact that some old records appear to have incorrectly referred to its presence in southern India. According to Baker (1934), it can be found in the “South of Travancore, where Stewart obtained it along with its nests.” Later, Biddulph reported a red-faced malkoha in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu’s southernmost district. Thilo Hoffmann later pointed out that this record would not pass muster with a modern records committee, and it is now best avoided.

The presence of red-faced malkoha on the island is largely restricted to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve and surrounding vegetation, which is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.


Even though the red-faced malkoha is a large and colorful bird, it might be difficult to spot in deep woodland because of its size and color.

Breeding Biology

It builds its nest in a tree, with a normal clutch of 2-3 eggs.


Approximately half of the mixed-species foraging flocks in the Sinharaja area are comprised of this species.

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