Bird of the Week: Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo is a summertime bird in Texas. These birds typically arrive late in the spring, around mid-April, and leave early in the fall, around mid-September. Their drawn-out knocking call is usually the first thing a birder notices, as these birds can be difficult to spot. These cuckoos stay well-hidden as they move about dense shrubs and trees looking for insects. Those lucky enough to see one will observe a medium-large bird that is brownish-gray on top and white below. It has a long tail with white spots and a yellow bill that is almost as long as the rest of the head. While these birds will eat snails, smaller vertebrates, eggs, and fruit, the local populations (and the number of eggs they lay) seem to rise and fall based on the availability of insects, especially cicadas and caterpillars. Because these birds winter in South America and arrive in Texas so late, they have limited time to select a mate, lay eggs, and raise their young.  When food is abundant, they will act as brood parasites, laying their eggs in other birds’ nests in order to maximize the number of offspring laid.
Compiled by Marc Frazier. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.
When you support Travis Audubon, you are protecting habitat and educating others about the importance of birds and other wildlife. Donate here!

Comments are closed.