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Black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae
Genus: Coccyzus
Vieillot, 1816

13, see text



Coccyzus is a genus of cuckoos which occur in the Americas. The genus name is from Ancient Greek kokkuzo, which means to call like a common cuckoo.[1] These include the lizard cuckoos formerly included in the genus Saurothera.

Species and taxonomy[edit]

The species in taxonomic order are:

Image Common Name Scientific name Distribution
Black-billed-cuckoo.jpg Black-billed cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus the United States, east of the Rockies
Coccyzus-americanus-001.jpg Yellow-billed cuckoo Coccyzus americanus southern United States
Pearly-breasted cuckoo Coccyzus euleri Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, Peru, and Venezuela
Mangrove Cuckoo.jpg Mangrove cuckoo Coccyzus minor southern Florida in the United States, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, both coasts of Mexico and Central America, and the Atlantic coast of South America as far south as the mouth of the Amazon River.
Cocos cuckoo Coccyzus ferrugineus Costa Rica
Coccyzus melacoryphus.jpg Dark-billed cuckoo Coccyzus melacoryphus Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela
Grey-capped cuckoo Coccyzus lansbergi Aruba, Colombia, Ecuador, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.
Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo 2506091171 (cropped).jpg Chestnut-bellied cuckoo Coccyzus pluvialis Jamaica
Bay-breasted cuckoo Coccyzus rufigularis Hispaniola
Coccyzus merlini -Pinar del Rio Province, Cuba-8 (1).jpg Great lizard cuckoo Coccyzus merlini The Bahamas (on Andros, Eleuthera and New Providence) and Cuba
Coccyzus vieilloti (cropped).jpg Puerto Rican lizard cuckoo Coccyzus vieilloti Puerto Rico
Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo (cropped).jpg Jamaican lizard cuckoo Coccyzus vetula Jamaica
DRbirds Hispaniolan-Lizard Cuckoo 2c.jpg Hispaniolan lizard cuckoo Coccyzus longirostris Haiti and the Dominican Republic

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[edit]

These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Many have black and white undertail patterns. They occur in a variety of forests, woodlands or mangroves.

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.


  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.