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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Yellow-billed Cuckoo -- Coccyzus americanus

RANGE: Breeds from interior California and northern Utah to southwestern Quebec and southern New Brunswick, south to southern Arizona and into Mexico. Winters in South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Favors moderately dense thickets near watercourses, second-growth woodlands; deserted farmlands overgrown with shrubs and brush, and brushy orchards for habitat. Also inhabits open woods, avoiding extremely dense woods and high elevations.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Low, dense, shrubby vegetation.

NEST: Prefers to nest in thick bushes overgrown with vines or in trees on horizontal limbs, typically 4 to 8 feet above ground. Conceals nest with surrounding foliage.

FOOD: Forages among leaves for food, which consists mainly of caterpillars, especially tent caterpillars and fall webworms. Also eats other insects and spiders, some small wild fruits, some frogs, and occasionally a small lizard.

REFERENCES: Beal 1904, Bent 1940a, DeGraff et al. 1980, Johnsgard 1979, Preble 1957, Tate and Tate 1982.

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