• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

Black-billed Cuckoo


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Common but secretive, the Black-billed Cuckoo is heard far more often than seen. During the breeding season, this forest dwelling caterpillar-eater often calls throughout the night.


Crows and Jays-like
Crows and Jays-like
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Slender, long-tailed bird colored in soft browns and grays.
  • Bill all black.

Immature Description

Resemble adults, but more brownish with less distinct tail pattern. Primaries with cinnamon tinge. Orbital ring yellowish.

Range Map Help

Black-billed Cuckoo Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    Black-billed Cuckoo

    • Elongated shape
    • Warm brown head and back, white underneath
    • Slightly curved black bill with red eye ring
    • Long, graduated tail with small white spots capping each pair of tail-feathers
    • © Christopher L. Wood, Park Point, Minnesota, June 2010
  • Immature

    Black-billed Cuckoo

    • Grayish black bill
    • Buffy throat
    • Pale eye ring
    • Grayish tinge to white underparts
    • Shorter tail than adult
    • © Cameron Rognan, Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca, New York, July 2008
  • Adult

    Black-billed Cuckoo

    • Slender shape
    • Slightly decurved black bill
    • Red eye ring
    • Long tail with small white spots on tips of feathers
    • © Jim Gilbert, Kay Environmental Center, Chester, New Jersey, May 2007
  • Adult

    Black-billed Cuckoo

    • Warm brown back with white underparts
    • Long, pointed wings
    • Black bill with red eye ring surrounding dark eye
    • Long tail
    • © Guy Lichter, Fort Whyte, Manitoba, Canada, June 2009
  • Adult

    Black-billed Cuckoo

    • Brown head, back, and wings
    • White underparts
    • Curved black bill
    • Red eye ring
    • Graduated tail with white spots at tips of feathers
    • © Lloyd Spitalnik, Central Park, New York, New York, May 2009

Similar Species

  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo has yellow lower mandible, a prominent rufous patch in the wings, a yellow eye ring, and much larger white spots under the darker tail feathers.



    Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
    bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

    The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.