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Yellow-billed cuckoo

Coccyzus americanus
(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:
yellow-billed cuckoo (en); papa-lagarta-de-asa-vermelha (pt); coulicoi à bec jaune (fr); cuclillo piquigualdo (es); gelbschnabelkuckuck (de)

Order Cuculiformes
Family Cuculidae

These birds are found breeding throughout most of the United States, in south-eastern Canada, northern Mexico and the Greater Antilles. They migrate south to winter in South America, mostly east of the Andes and south of the Amazon basin, in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina.

The yellow-billed cuckoo is 26-32 cm long and has a wingspan of 43 cm. They weigh 55-65 g.

They typically breed in open woodlands with clearings and a dense shrub layer, often near streams, rivers or lakes. They are also found in abandoned farmland, old fruit orchards, successional scrubland and dense thickets. During winter they occur in moist savannas, mangroves and scrub forests.

Yellow-billed cuckoos are mostly insectivorous, taking caterpillars, cicadas, grasshoppers and crickets. They also occasionally eat bird eggs, snails, small lizards, frogs and even fruits and seeds.

Although some yellow-billed cuckoos may lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, they most often raise their own chicks. They are believed to be monogamous and breed in May-August. Both sexes build the nest, which is made of twigs, lined with roots and dried leaves, and rimmed with pine needles. The nest is placed in a tree or scrub, 1-4 m above the ground. The female lays 2-3 light blue eggs which are incubated by both parents for 9-11 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 7-9 days after hatching, but only become independent 2 weeks later.

IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and has a global population estimated at 9 million individuals. The population seems to have undergone a small decline, becoming increasingly rare in Canada and the north-western United States.
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