Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Coccyzus americanus

Summary 5

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is a cuckoo (pronounced cuck-coo). Common folk-names for this bird in the southern United States are Rain Crow and Storm Crow. These likely refer to the bird's habit of calling on hot days, often presaging thunderstorms.

Coccyzus americanus 6

More often heard than seen, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (11-13 inches) is most easily separated from the similar Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) by its reddish-brown wing patches, white-and-black under-tail pattern, and the yellow on its bill. Other field marks include a long tail, thin body, and black legs. Male and female Yellow-billed Cuckoos are similar at all seasons. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo breeds across much of the eastern U.S.and southern Canada. Smaller numbers breed west of the Great Plains, in Mexico, and in the West Indies. All Yellow-billed Cuckoos spend the winter in South America. Yellow-billed Cuckoos breed in forests with plentiful undergrowth and clearings, particularly those near water. On migration, this species may be found in habitat similar to that inhabited during the summer months. Wintering Yellow-billed Cuckoos inhabit humid tropical forest. The diet of this species is composed primarily of large insects, including grasshoppers, cicadas, and caterpillars. Like many cuckoos, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo spends much of its time hidden in thick vegetation, where it is not easily seen. Lucky birdwatchers may observe this species slinking through the branches of tall trees while foraging for insect prey. Yellow-billed Cuckoos are primarily active during the day, but like many migratory birds, this species migrates at night.

Threat Status: Least concern

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Melissa McMasters, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  2. (c) Wikimedia Commons, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  3. (c) Syd Phillips, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  4. (c) Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  5. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  6. (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),

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