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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

Black-billed Cuckoo -- Coccyzus erythropthalmus

RANGE: Breeds from east-central and southeastern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia south, at least locally, to eastern Colorado, north-central Texas, northern Arkansas, northern Alabama, and the Carolinas. Winters in South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Prefers extensive areas of upland woods that provide a variety of trees, bushes, and vines. Also occurs in brushy pastures, hedgerows, open woodlands, orchards, thickets, and along wooded roadsides.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Low, dense, shrubby vegetation.

NEST: Selects nest sites that are well concealed by overhanging branches and leaf clusters. Usually nests in shrubs or on a low tree branch, typically 4 to 6 feet above ground. Occasionally lays eggs in the nests of other birds.

FOOD: Feeds primarily on caterpillars, especially tent caterpillars; also other insects, spiders, and a few tiny mollusks, fishes, and wild fruits and berries.

REFERENCES: Beal 1904, Bent 1940a, DeGraff et al. 1980, Herrick 1910, Johnsgard 1979, Spencer 1943.

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