The Chestnut-bellied Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus sumatranus) builds its nest in trees. Made of twigs lodged between the forks of branches, the nest is neatly lined with green leaves (left). In it the female lays two white, glossless eggs.
This malkoha is a cuckoo, but unlike most cuckoos from this region, it actually builds its own nest and takes care of its young.
Cuckoos (Family Cuculidae) are notorious for taking advantage of other bird species to look after their young – from nest building to egg incubation to chick rearing. This is what ornithologists call brood or nest parasitism. One common brood parasite many birders are familiar with is the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) that in Singapore makes use of the House Crow (Corvus splendens) to rear its young.
In freeing itself from the hard work of rearing its young, the bird has more time to concentrate on propagating the species.
However, despite the label of being brood parasites, many species of cuckoos actually build their own nests and raise their own young. There are also cases of these cuckoos sometimes laying their eggs in the nest of a nearby pair of the same species or of another species.