Backyard Birds

Mangrove Cuckoo

The Mangrove Cuckoo, Coccyzus minor, is a cuckoo that is found throughout the Caribbean, both sides of the Mexican coast and the Atlantic side of South America south to the estuary of the Amazon River.

The Mangrove Cuckoo is essentially non-migratory; however, the Florida population does move south for the winter, returning sometime in March.

This cuckoo is found primarily in mangrove swamps and hammocks.The Mangrove Cuckoo is generally fairly common in its specialized range.

This bird could be threatened by human development of mangrove habitat.

Nesting / Breeding:

It usually nests 2-3 meters above water in a mangrove tree or in a fork of a tree above ground . The nest is a relatively flat platform of twigs and leaves. The female lays 2-4 eggs with both adults sharing in feeding the young bird.


Adults have a long tail, brown above and black-and-white below, and a black curved bill with yellow on the lower beak. The head and upper parts are brown. There is a yellow ring around the eye. This bird is best distinguished by its black facial mask and buffy underparts.

Diet / Feeding:

It prefers caterpillars and grasshoppers, but will also take other insects, spiders, snails, small lizards, and fruit.

Call / Vocalization:

The most common call heard is a guttural “gawk gawk gawk gawk gauk gauk”. It will also call a single “whit”.


  • “National Geographic” Field Guide to the Birds of North America ISBN 0-7922-6877-6
  • Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol 4, Josep del Hoyo editor, ISBN 84-87334-22-9
  • “National Audubon Society” The Sibley Guide to Birds, by David Allen Sibley, ISBN 0-679-45122-6

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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