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Bird Gallery

Black-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo

© Joanne Kamo

Coccyzus erythropthalmus

Family: (Cuculidae) Cuckoos, Roadrunners, and Anis

Preferred Habitat: Moist woodlands and orchards.

Seasonal Occurrence: Uncommon spring and fall

Notes by Susan Billetdeaux: The Black-billed Cuckoo can be even more reclusive than its more common relative, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Most sightings occur along the coast in the spring; Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary is one of the more productive locations to look for them. More often heard than seen, it is usually spotted in the upper branches of tall trees. The call is a fast, hollow series of soft cucucucucu. In addition to their black bills, they are distinguished from Yellow-billed Cuckoos by the red eye ring (adults only). Juveniles have buffy eye rings. Tails lack the prominent white spots of Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Black-billed Cuckoos are very beneficial birds and voracious eaters of tent caterpillars.

Comments by Don Verser: If juvenile without red orbital ring, note smaller less contrasting undertail spots and amount of rufous in primaries in addition to all black bill.