CUCKOOS of North America and their Allies

Order Cuculiformes   Family Cuculidae

In addition to cuckoos, the cuckoo family Cuculidae also includes the roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals and anis. The coucals and anis are sometimes separated as distinct families. The cuckoos are generally medium sized slender birds. The majority are of the cuculidae family are arboreal, with a sizeable minority that are terrestrial. Most are tropical and the temperate species are migratory. The cuckoos feed on insects, insect larva, as well as fruit. Many species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species, but the majority of species raise their own young. Cuckoos are medium sized birds that range in size from 15-63 cm. There is generally little sexual dimorphism in size, but where it exists, it can be either the male or the female that is larger. There are two basic body forms, arboreal species which are slender and have short tarsi, and terrestrial species which are more heavy set and have long tarsi. Almost all species have long tails which are used for steering in terrestrial species and as a rudder during flight in the arboreal species.

Genus Coccyzus
These cuckoos generally build their own nest and raise their young, Some species occasionally lay eggs in the nests of others.

Cuckoo, Black-billed  Coccyzus erythropthalmus  Found: The Americas
The Black-billed Cuckoo has black bill; grayish-brown upperparts; white-underparts; red eye-ring.
Similar to: Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Yellow-billed Cuckoo has a black bill above and yellow below; Black-billed Cuckoo bill is all black. Yellow-billed sometimes has a visible yellow eye-ring; Black-billed eye-ring is red. Yellow-billed has more white on the underside of its tail than the Black-billed.
Image by: 1) Big Dipper 2  2) Bob Hall  3) Wolfgang Wander   4) Dave Inman - Pennsylvania  5) Henry McLin - Pennsylvania



Cuckoo, Mangrove  Coccyzus minor  Found: south Florida to north Brazil
The Mangrove Cuckoo has brown upperparts, head; buffy underparts; black mask; brown upper-tail; black-and-white under-tail; yellow eye-ring.
Similar to: Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Mangrove Cuckoo is best differentiated from Yellow-billed Cuckoo by its black facial mask and buffy underparts. Both species have black bill above and yellow below. Both have yellow eye-ring.
Image by: 1) New Jersy Birds  2) Rachel Frieze, USFWS - Florida 3) Henry Plank - Saint Martin
   4) Mario Davalos - Dominican Republic   5) birdphotos.com - Costa Rica  6)   Mark Stevens - Antigua



Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Coccyzus americanus   Found: The Americas
The Yellow-billed Cuckoo brown upperparts, head; brown upper-tail; black-and-white under-tail; yellow bill, especially the lower mandible; yellow eye-ring.
Similar to: Black-billed Cuckoo. Yellow-billed Cuckoo has a black bill above and yellow below; Black-billed Cuckoo bill is all black. Yellow-billed sometimes has a visible yellow eye-ring; Black-billed eye-ring is red. Yellow-billed has more white on the underside of its tail than the Black-billed.
Similar to: Mangrove Cuckoo. Mangrove Cuckoo is best differentiated from Yellow-billed Cuckoo by its black facial mask and buffy underparts. Both species have black bill above and yellow below. Both have yellow eye-ring.
Image by: 1) Seabrooke Leckie  2) Phil Brown - Parker River NWR, Massachuestts 
   3) Mdf - Bruce Peninsula National Park, Canada  4) Dick Daniels - North Carolina  5) Dominic Sherony




Genus Crotophaga
The three ani species live in the tropical Americas. The anis are not brood parasites, but nest communally, the cup nest being built by several pairs in a tree. A number of females lay their eggs in the nest and then share incubation and feeding.

Ani, Groove-billed  Crotophaga sulcirostris  Found: North America (Texas), Central and South America
The Groove-billed Ani has a heavily grooved gray bill; black plumage; shaggy neck; black eyes.
Similar to: Greater Ani. Greater Ani has white eye; Groove-billed Ani has black eyes.
Similar to: Smooth-billed Ani. Groove-billed Ani has narrow grooves in the bill, Smooth-billed does not.
Image by: 1) Jerry Oldenettel - Mexico  2) Hans Hillewaert  - Costa Rica  3) Pablo Leautard - Mexico


Ani, Smooth-billed Crotophaga ani   Found: North America (Florida), Central and South America
The Smooth-billed Ani has a lightly grooved gray bill; black plumage; shaggy neck; black eyes.
Similar to: Groove-billed Ani. Groove-billed Ani has narrow grooves in the bill, Smooth-billed does not.
Image by:  1, 2) Dick Daniels - Royal Palm Reserve, Jamaica  3)  Dick - Puerto Rico  4) Dick - Pedasi, Panama



Genus Dromococcyx
They have strikingly graduated tails, and are among the few cuckoos of the Americas that are brood parasites (the only other is the Striped Cuckoo).

Cuckoo, Pheasant  Dromococcyx phasianellus  Found: Mexico, Central America, South America
The Pheasant Cuckoo has brown upperparts; paler underparts. They are brood parasitic.
Similar to: Pavonine Cuckoo. Pavonine has buff throat, upper-breast; Pheasant Cuckoo has pale throat, upper-breast.
Image by: 1) Dominic Sherony - Panama  2) Jorge Montejo



Genus Geococcyx
There are two roadrunner species. Their name comes from the habit of racing down roads in front of moving vehicles and then darting to safety in the brush. They raise their own young.

Roadrunner, Greater Geococcyx californianus   Found: southwest USA, Mexico
The Greater Roadrunner has streaked dark brown upperparts; dark brown crest with white specks; long dark tail. North America's largest cuckoo.
Similar to: Lesser Roadrunner. Lesser Roadrunner is smaller than Greater Roadrunner and has a shorter bill. If a roadrunner is found in the USA then it is a Greater Roadrunner.
Image by:    1) Alan D Wilson - Borrego Springs, California   2) Elaine R Wilson - Borrego Springs, California   3) Dick Daniels - North Carolina Zoo,  4, 5, 6) Dick - Tuscon, Arizona
4) Note lizzard in the mouth


Roadrunner, Lesser Geococcyx velox  Found: Mexico and Central America
The Lesser Roadrunner has streaked dark brown upperparts; dark brown crest with white specks; long dark tail.
Similar to: Greater Roadrunner. Lesser Roadrunner is smaller than Greater Roadrunner and has a shorter bill. If a roadrunner is found in the USA then it is a Greater Roadrunner.
Image by: 1) LaHomma Simmons  2) Jorge Montejo - Mexico



Genus Morococcyx - 1 species

Cuckoo, Lesser Ground-  Morococcyx erythropygus  Found: Mexico, Central America
The Lesser Ground-Cuckoo has dull brown upperparts; rufous tips to the feathers and uppertail coverts; ornate pattern on the face with a black mask on sides of face; cinnamon underparts.
Image by: 1, 2) Dominic Sherony - Mexico  3) Francesco Veronesi - Mexico








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