Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Cuban Lizard-cuckoo (Coccyzus merlini)


French: Tacco de Cuba German: Eidechsenkuckuck Spanish: Cuco lagartero cubano
Other common names: Great Lizard Cuckoo

Saurothera merlini


, 1839,



This species (with C. bahamensis) and C. vetula, C. longirostris and C. vieilloti were previously placed together in Saurothera, but recent molecular analysis found that genus to be embedded within Coccyzus#R. Hitherto considered conspecific with C. bahamensis. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. santamariae (Garrido, 1971) – islands off NC Cuba.
  • C. m. merlini (d’Orbigny, 1839) – Cuba and Cayo Conuco.
  • C. m. decolor (Bangs & Zappey, 1905) – I of Pines.
  • Descriptive notes

    45–55 cm; male 125–175 g, female 165–255 g. Adult olive-brown above, primaries rufous, throat whitish, breast and cheeks light grey, belly and undertail-... read more


    A throaty “ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-kau-kau-ko-ko” lasting a total of c. 9 seconds, with the... read more


    Tropical lowland evergreen forest, tropical deciduous forest, secondary forest, pine forest; seen... read more

    Food and feeding

    Lizards, locusts, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, large moths, bees, wasps, frogs, small snakes, bird eggs and nestlings, occasionally... read more


    Very poorly known. Season mostly Apr–May, but also apparently Oct. Nest a shallow saucer of twigs, lined with leaves, well concealed... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Rather limited range, but species is common to fairly common, including on I of Pines and N cays, widespread and rather tame. Used in traditional... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Cuban Lizard-cuckoo (Coccyzus merlini). 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 3 April 2020).