Black-billed cuckoo

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Black-billed cuckoo
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae
Genus: Coccyzus
Species: C. erythropthalmus
Binomial name
Coccyzus erythropthalmus
(Wilson, 1811)

Coccyzus erythrophthalmus

The black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) is New World species of bird in the Cuculidae (cuckoo) family. It is very similar and overlaps in range with the closely related yellow-billed cuckoo.

Adults have a long, graduated brown tail and a black, slightly downcurved bill. The head and upper parts are brown and the underparts are white. The feet are zygodactylous. There is a red ring around the eye. Juveniles are drabber, and the eye ring is greenish.

Standard Measurements[2][3]
length 280–320 mm (11–12.6 in)
weight 52 g (1.8 oz)
wingspan 440 mm (17.5 in)
wing 132.9–140.9 mm (5.23–5.55 in)
tail 147.4–159.8 mm (5.80–6.29 in)
culmen 20.2–23.9 mm (0.80–0.94 in)
tarsus 21.1–24.1 mm (0.83–0.95 in)

Their breeding habitat is edges of wooded areas across North America east of the Rockies. They nest in a low tree or shrub, sometimes on the ground, laying 2 to 4 blue-green eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 10 to 11 days.[2] They sometimes lay eggs in the nests of other birds.

Comparison of black-billed cuckoo and yellow-billed cuckoo

They migrate to South America. This species is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.

These birds forage in shrubs or trees. They mainly eat insects, especially tent caterpillars, but also some snails, eggs of other birds and berries. It is known to beat caterpillars against a branch before consuming in order to remove some of the indigestible hairs. Remaining hairs accumulate in the stomach until the bird sheds the stomach lining and disgorges a pellet in a manner similar to owls.[4][5]

The call is a rapid repetitive Coocoocoo.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Coccyzus erythropthalmus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Godfrey, W. Earl (1966). The Birds of Canada. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada. p. 210. 
  3. ^ Sibley, David Allen (2000). The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf. p. 268. ISBN 0-679-45122-6. 
  4. ^ Paulson, Dennis (2013). "Cuckoos - Tent Caterpillar Birds". BirdNote. 
  5. ^ "Black-billed Cuckoo". Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. 

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