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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

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.

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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
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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.