Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)


French: Coulicou à bec jaune German: Gelbschnabelkuckuck Spanish: Cuclillo piquigualdo

Cuculus americanus


, 1758,

South Carolina, USA


Has been thought to be closely related to C. euleri, and the two have been considered conspecific#R. Birds in W North America, on average longer-winged, were described as race occidentalis, but much overlap in size and most individuals cannot be distinguished; DNA study, however, suggests that they are sufficiently distinct to be accorded subspecies rank#R; further study required. Reports of different races in non-breeding range are questionable. A claimed record of hybrid between present species and C. erythropthalmus refers to a juvenile of present species. Treated as monotypic.


SE Canada and USA (except NW) S to Mexico (inland N Pacific slope, Baja California and Caribbean lowlands in Tamaulipas and Yucatán Peninsula) and N West Indies. Winters in South America.

Descriptive notes

28–32 cm; male 42·8–70·9 g, female 53·6–78 g, up to 110 g fat before migration, to 31 g after over-water migration. Adult brownish... read more


Rapid throaty “ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-kow-kow-kowlp-kowlp”, first notes loud and guttural... read more


High-ground forest with clear dark understorey, open woodland, shrubby pastures, riparian woodland... read more

Food and feeding

Diet includes insects, mainly caterpillars, but also grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, cicadas and beetles; small lizards, especially ... read more


Breeds May–Sept in E North America: Apr–Aug in Florida, May–Jul in Maryland, May–Sept in Ohio, May–Aug in... read more


Migratory, at night. Over-water flight in autumn of 2000–3000 km to West Indies, from where... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Breeding densities vary regionally across years, in apparent response to caterpillar outbreaks. Common in North America from the... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2020). Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus). 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 25 February 2020).