Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Mexican Squirrel-cuckoo (Piaya mexicana)


French: Piaye du Mexique German: Mexiko-Eichhornkuckuck Spanish: Cuco ardilla mexicano

Cuculus Mexicanus


, 1827,

Temescaltepec, Mexico


Long lumped with P. cayana, but recently treated as species#R; differs from parapatric race thermophila of P. cayana in its rufous underside of tail feathers with broad black subterminal bar and broad white terminal tip vs all-black underside of tail with broad white terminal tip (3); pale grey vs smoky-grey lower belly and vent (2); much brighter rufous upperparts and paler throat (1); usually greenish-grey vs greenish-yellow orbital ring#R (ns[1]); longer tail (effect size 2.01; score 2); “somewhat different” song#R (allow 1); and parapatric distribution (3). Birds of NW Mexico (S Sonora and N Sinaloa) sometimes separated as race extima. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Mexico on Pacific slope and inland S to Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Descriptive notes

40·5–50 cm. Rich chestnut head and upperparts, long graduated tail rufous above with black subterminal band and white tip (underside rufous); throat rufous to pinkish... read more


Song (mostly given Apr–Aug) is a prolonged series of sharp notes, “pee’uk pee’uk ...”, given at a... read more


Humid to semi-arid forest and edges, and scrubby woodland, thorn forest and pine–oak woodland... read more

Food and feeding

No known differences in diet and foraging behaviour from much better-studied P. cayana.


Breeds in Jul (Jalisco), May (Oaxaca), where nest with young in Jul. Adult feeds its mate. Nest a shallow platform of leaves, or sticks and... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Population size unquantified, but described as generally common and the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Mexican Squirrel-cuckoo (Piaya mexicana). 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 17 February 2020).