Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)


French: Coulicou à bec noir German: Schwarzschnabelkuckuck Spanish: Cuclillo piquinegro

Cuculus erythropthalma

A. Wilson

, 1811,

near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


Emendation of scientific name to erythrophthalmus is unjustified. Molecular data show present species and C. lansbergi more closely related to West Indian species formerly placed in Saurothera and Hyetornis than to other members of present genus#R#R. A claimed record of hybrid between present species and C. americanus refers to a juvenile of latter species. Monotypic.


SC & SE Canada S to SC & SE USA. Winters in NW & WC South America.

Descriptive notes

27–31 cm; male 41·6–50 g, female 46·2–62·8 g, heavier at migration. Adult brownish olive above, primaries brown, white below, long tail... read more


Rhythmic “cucucu, cucucu, cucucu” call begins with c. 5 notes, each on a lower pitch, then... read more


High-ground forest, open woodland, thickets, willow (Salix), alder (Alnus), aspen... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, mainly caterpillars, also saw-flies, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, spiders, phalangids; rarely frogs, small fish, eggs of other... read more


Breeds May–Sept; in Maryland May–Jul, in Oklahoma May–Jun. Courtship feeding occurs. Nest a shallow cup of sticks.... read more


Migratory, moving at night through Mexico and Central America as late as Dec. Spring migration... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Breeding densities vary considerably across years, in apparent response to caterpillar outbreaks. Populations considered stable... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2019). Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 13 December 2019).