Black-billed Cuckoo

Coccyzus erythropthalmus




Cuckoos, Roadrunners and Anis (Cuculidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Blue green with dark markings

Number of Eggs:

2 - 5

Incubation Days:

10 - 14

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

2 - 20 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Dried twigs lined with fresh grass, leaves, pine needles, catkins, and vegetation.





Black-billed Cuckoo: Medium-sized cuckoo with brown upperparts and white underparts. Eye-ring is red and decurved bill is black. Tail is long with faint white, dark-eyed spots underneath. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has orange eye-ring.

Range and Habitat

Black-billed Cuckoo: Can be found throughout central and eastern North America. Breeds from Alberta and Montana east to Maritime Provinces, and south from Kansas to South Carolina. Spends winters in South America. Preferred habitats include moist thickets in low overgrown pastures and orchards; also occurs in thicker undergrowth and sparse woodlands.

Breeding and Nesting

Black-billed Cuckoo: Two to five darkly marked, blue-green eggs are laid in a flimsy, shallow nest made of twigs, lined with grass and plant down, and built within a few feet of the ground in a dense thicket. Incubation ranges from 10 to 14 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Black-billed Cuckoo: Feeds primarily on insects, particularly caterpillars.


Black-billed Cuckoo: Emits a series of soft mellow "cu-cu-cu-cu" notes in groups of 2 to 5, all on the same pitch.

Similar Species

Black-billed Cuckoo: Adult Yellow-billed Cuckoo has yellow-based bill and cinnamon-brown primaries in all plumages, and larger white, "eyeless” tail spots below. Juvenile Yellow-billed Cuckoo can be black-billed but has pale white, "eyeless” tail spots below tail. Mangrove Cuckoo has yellow-based bill, black mask, buff breast, and larger, "eyeless” white tail spots below.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X