Fr: Coulicou de Vieillot
All: Kleiner Mangrovekuckuck
Esp: Cuclillo Canela
Ita: Cuculo beccoscuro
Nd: Kleine Mangrovekoekoek
Sd: Mörknäbbad regngök


Roger Ahlman
Pbase Galleries Peru and Ecuador

John Anderson
John Anderson Photo Galleries

Eduardo Andrés Jordan

Philippe et Aline Wolfer

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 4 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334229

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF COLOMBIA by Steven L. Hilty and William L. Brown - Princeton University Press – ISBN 069108372X

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

Animal Corner


Neotropical Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Home page

Page Family Cuculidae

Summary cards  


Dark-billed Cuckoo
Coccyzus melacoryphus

Cuculiformes Order – Cuculidae Family

Unlike numerous Cuckoos, the members of genus Coccyzus are not brood parasites. The pair raises its chicks in its own nest. This species appears to be less secretive than other cuckoos, and can be seen perched in open on fence wires. It shows typical Coccyzus shape.

Length: 27 cm
Wingspan: 38-43 cm
Weight: 50-60 g

The Dark-billed Cuckoo adult has greyish-brown upperparts, including the upperwing. The long, graduated tail is bronzy above and blackish below. The outer rectrices are black with broad white tips.
The underparts are pale buffy-cinnamon.

On the head, crown and nape are grey. We can see a black mask from lores, through the eyes and extending to the ear-coverts. There is a narrow pale grey band from the lower cheeks down to the neck sides.
The bill is black. The eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are slate-grey.
Both sexes are similar.

The juvenile is duller with brown crown and nape. The wings can be rufous with buff-tipped wing-coverts. The tail shows indistinct white tips.

The Dark-billed Cuckoo has large range. It is found in W Colombia, Ecuador and NW Peru. This species is visible in lowlands E of the Andes, from NE Colombia and Venezuela, Guianas and Brazil, S to Uruguay and C Argentina. It occurs in Trinidad and Tobago too. It is accidental in Falklands. It is present and breeds in the Galapagos Islands where it is confined to the wetter vegetated areas.

The Dark-billed Cuckoo is fairly common in forested areas such as tropical deciduous forest, gallery forest, secondary forest, streamside thickets, mangroves… But it also frequents drier open ranchland with shrubby borders, seasonally flooded forest, margins of lakes and rivers and coastal plains.
This species is seen mainly from sea-level to 1200 metres of elevation, but higher according to the range (up to 1800 metres in Argentina, 2100-2400 metres in Colombia, and up to 2800 metres in montane valleys of Ecuador and E Andean slopes of Peru. Some observations of this species have been made up to 3600 metres of elevation.

The Dark-billed Cuckoo gives a dry rattling “dddddrr” and utters a single “coo”. The song is a throaty “ka,ka,ka,ka,ka,kow,kowp,kowp,kowp,kowp” of which the last notes may be omitted.

The Dark-billed Cuckoo feeds primarily on caterpillars and various insects, grasshoppers, moths, beetles and ants. It also takes spiders, snails and lizards. During summer and autumn, is consumes fruits and berries too.
It usually forages alone, by walking among the low vegetation, and often under the vegetal cover.

It performs sunning behaviour, with spread wings and tail, and raised back feathers in order to expose the skin to the sun. As it is living in fairly humid habitats, its plumage may become wet sometimes.

During the breeding season, some displays typical of these species can be observed. The graduated tail is spread and raised, in order to expose the bold white spots and the black and white pattern. The male may also perform courtship feeding to the female throughout the cycle.

The Dark-billed Cuckoo is not a brood parasite. The nesting pair is monogamous and both sexes build a nest and rear their young.   
This species is partially migratory. It occurs all year round W of Andes in Colombia. It is present in non-breeding period, from May to October, in the llanos of Venezuela, in Surinam and Guianas. During the breeding season, October-December, it is found in S Brazil and Argentina. It also breeds in the Galapagos Islands.

The breeding season occurs in October/December.
Both adults build a nest, a platform made with sticks, placed a mid-height in tree or bush. The inner depression is lined with feathers or moss. During the nest-building, the male brings materials while the female arranges the nest.

She lays 3-5 green to pale blue eggs. Both adults share the incubation during 13-15 days, but the male usually incubates at night. They feed the chicks with insects. The young birds fledge about two weeks after hatching.

The Dark-billed Cuckoo is fairly common throughout its wide range, and the populations appear stable.
The species is not currently threatened.