|Black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)|
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Species and taxonomy
The species in taxonomic order are:
- Black-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalmus
- Yellow-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus
- Pearly-breasted cuckoo, Coccyzus euleri
- Mangrove cuckoo Coccyzus minor
- Cocos cuckoo, Coccyzus ferrugineus
- Dark-billed cuckoo, Coccyzus melacoryphus
- Grey-capped cuckoo, Coccyzus lansbergi
- Chestnut-bellied cuckoo, Coccyzus pluvialis
- Bay-breasted cuckoo, Coccyzus rufigularis
- Great lizard cuckoo, Coccyzus merlini
- Puerto Rican lizard cuckoo, Coccyzus vieilloti
- Jamaican lizard cuckoo, Coccyzus vetula
- Hispaniolan lizard cuckoo, Coccyzus longirostris
The genera Saurothera (the lizard cuckoos) and Hyetornis (chestnut-bellied and bay-breasted cuckoos) were lumped with Coccyzus by the American Ornithologists' Union in 2006.
On the other hand, the ash-colored cuckoo and dwarf cuckoo – at one time separated in Micrococcyx – have been found to be closest relatives of the little cuckoo, formerly in Piaya. These three are now again placed in the reinstated genus of the latter, Coccycua.
Description and ecology
Coccyzus cuckoos, unlike many Old World species, build their own nests in trees and lay two or more eggs. Yellow-billed and black-billed cuckoos occasionally lay eggs in the nests of other birds, but are not obligate brood parasites like the common cuckoo of Eurasia.
Northern species such as yellow-billed and black-billed cuckoos are strong migrants, wintering in Central or South America, and occasionally wander to western Europe as rare vagrants, but the tropical Coccyzus cuckoos are mainly sedentary.
These are vocal species when breeding, with persistent and loud calls. They feed on large insects such as cicadas, wasps and caterpillars (including those with stinging hairs or spines which are distasteful to many birds). Lizard cuckoos are large and powerful species, and mainly take vertebrate prey, especially, as the name implies, lizards.