A secretive and elusive bird found in dense vegetation, the black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) is more often heard than seen, producing a rhythmic “cu-cu” call to proclaim its arrival at its breeding grounds (2) (3). This species can also be heard calling shortly before rainfall, a behaviour that has led it to being given the nickname of ‘rain crow’ (2).
As its name implies, this cuckoo has a black bill. Its upperparts are greyish-brown and its underparts are pale greyish (4) (5). It can be separated from other, similar species by the bright red ring that surrounds the eye. In breeding adults, this ring may be yellowish (3) (4).
The male and female black-billed cuckoo are indistinguishable, except for the fact that the female is slightly larger than the male. Juveniles look a lot like the adults, but have a more brownish head and a yellowish eye ring. Unlike the adult, the juvenile does not show white spots on its tail, which also helps separate the juvenile black-billed cuckoo from other, similar species (3) (4).
- Length: 28 - 31 cm (2)
- Wingspan: 34 - 40 cm (2)
- 40 - 65 g (2)