Merlin

Black-billed Cuckoo

ID Info
Silhouette CuckoosCuckoos

Black-billed Cuckoo

Coccyzus erythropthalmus
  • ORDER: Cuculiformes
  • FAMILY: Cuculidae
Basic Description

Uncommon and elusive, the Black-billed Cuckoo skulks around densely wooded eastern forests and thickets. Its staccato can be heard day and night, but getting a look at its slender brown body and namesake black bill may take a bit of patience. If it pops into view, notice its red eye ring and small white tips on the underside of its tail feathers. On the breeding grounds, this ardent caterpillar-eater makes quick work of tent caterpillars and webworms.

More ID Info
image of range map for Black-billed CuckooRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Black-billed Cuckoos are secretive and tend to perch motionless for long periods, so finding one can be tricky. Listen for their staccato cuckoo song, which sounds clearer with less of a knocking quality than the similar Yellow-billed Cuckoo. They are quite vocal especially at night in midsummer; a perfect time to go scouting with your ears so that you can return to their locations the next day. Keep your eyes peeled for a long, hunchbacked shape in the middle story of the forest. Even if you think it's just a funny looking branch it might be worth a second look. Because they have an appetite for caterpillars, look for areas with tent caterpillars or fall webworms.

Other Names
  • Cuclillo Piquinegro (Spanish)
  • Coulicou à bec noir (French)
  • Cool Facts