Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Black-billed Cuckoo
 
 

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  Order Cuculiformes - Cuckoos
   Family Cuculidae - Cuckoos, Roadrunners, Anis
      Subfamily Cuculinae - Cuckoos

  Cuckoos are a diverse assemblage of land birds related to parrots.  Their fourth toe is reversed (zygodactyl). Groups include the Old World Cuckoos, Coucals, American Cuckoos, Hoatzins (sometimes placed in a separate family), Anis and the Guira Cuckoo, and Roadrunners and Ground Cuckoos. We only have two species of American Cuckoos in our area.
American Cuckoos (Coccyzus)
are shy birds, hiding in dense woods. They will eat large hairy caterpillars including tent caterpillars and gypsy moths. They move slowly within a tree but fly rapidly across openings.
     
     
  □ Black-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalamus
 
 Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        MIGRATION - Rare / Rare
            DENSE FOLIAGE, CANOPY
 
   The Black-billed Cuckoo is very similar to the yellow-billed - the white tips on their tail are smaller and their mandible is dark. They lack the rufous patches on the wing. If you get close, they have a red-orbital ring (it is yellow in the Yellow-billed Cuckoo). They seem to be more elusive than the Yellow-billed Cuckoo during migration. They inhabit forest edge and open woodland, both deciduous and coniferous.
 
     
  RANGE: This cuckoo's breeding range broadly overlaps that of the Yellow-billed but is shifted to the north. They range from our mountains north to the coast in Virginia to the St. Lawrence seaway, west across southern Canada to Alberta, then south east of the mountains to central Oklahoma and east to the Appalachians. They winter from northern South America to Ecuador, northern Peru, and central Bolivia.
 

BREEDING: Monogamous. Broods? They build a nest of twigs, lined with ferns, grass, roots, catkins, etc. placed against a tree trunk of on a log or in a vine tangle, usually lower than 10', or on the ground. Both sexes build. Females usually lay 2-3 (4-5) eggs which both parents incubate for 10-14 days. The young hatch asynchronously. They are altricial and leave the nest after 7-9 days and can climb around branches at about 1 week and fly at 3 weeks of age. Both parents care for them.
   They are only rarely parasitic (laying in nests of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo on occasion).

  DIET: They feed on hairy caterpillars plus mollusks, fish, small vertebrates, bird eggs, fruit and berries. Young are fed caterpillars.
  VOICE: Their song is a hollow, whistled "po po po" repeated and gradually falling.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Kiawah - rare migrant (spring and fall).
      Edisto - migrant.
      Coastal - rare transient. Hilton Head - rare migrant. Cape Romain - occasional in spring, rare in fall (migrants).
      Caw Caw - uncommon spring and fall (migrants). ACE - rare spring and fall migrants.
   P&G: Rare migrant. 23 April - 24 May, 3 August - 14 November. Probably a casual breeder on the coastal plain (suggestive evidence from Mt. Pleasant). However, no verified nests have been found in the state.
   M&P: Nesting and egg production is keyed to local food abundance but there is no hard evidence of nesting on the coastal plain.
   Avendex: 24 records. April - May, July, September - November. Maximum: 9 birds, Charleston Co., May 13, 1995. Migration count.
   Potter: Primarily a transient in the coastal areas.
  ●  Rare? I have seen them on Sapelo Island, GA in the spring and they should be found here as somewhat errant migrants. I think I saw one flying across the boardwalk leading to the beach - that's about the only look you get! (Sometimes you will see a cuckoo fly across the road when you are driving - look fast!)
 

   
       
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