Birda Logo
Species Guide

Cocos Cuckoo

Coccyzus ferrugineus

The Cocos cuckoo, Coccyzus ferrugineus, presents a striking figure with its elongated tail comprising half of its 32 to 33 cm length. Weighing approximately 70 grams, this bird is characterized by a robust, slightly curved bill, a black maxilla, and a mandible that ranges from yellow to yellow-orange with a black tip. Both sexes are similarly attired in a plumage of slate gray on the forehead and crown, transitioning to grayish brown on the upperparts, with rufous wings. The tail is a matching grayish brown above and black below, with generous white tips. A narrow blackish facial mask extends past the eye, set off by a delicate ring of yellow to orange-yellow bare skin. The underparts are a soft buffy white, leading to a rich buff on the belly and undertail coverts. Juveniles share the adult coloration but with less pronounced contrasts and a whitish throat, chest, and belly.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Cocos cuckoo, look for the distinctive long tail and the contrast between the slate gray head and the rufous wings. The facial mask and the yellow to orange-yellow eye ring are also key features. In flight, the white-tipped tail is quite conspicuous.


This bird is endemic to Cocos Island, a lush oasis in the Pacific Ocean under Costa Rica's stewardship. It thrives across the island's diverse habitats, from sea level to the highest elevations of approximately 450 meters. These habitats include flooded bay forest, riparian forest, tropical rainforest, and tropical cloudforest.


The Cocos cuckoo is a unique species, found nowhere else but on Cocos Island, situated some 550 kilometers off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.


The Cocos cuckoo is a permanent resident of the island, favoring forest edges during the breeding season and retreating to the forest interior at other times. Its movements are typically limited to short flights, hops along branches, and brief flutters and glides within the trees.


A diet rich in caterpillars, particularly those of the giant sphinx moth and the Orion cecropian butterfly, sustains the adult Cocos cuckoo. Juveniles are fed a diet of crickets and cockroaches. The bird employs various foraging techniques, including ground-level hunting, gleaning from understory plants, and probing in bromeliads. Occasionally, it may also consume the endemic Anolis towsendi lizard.


Breeding occurs during the dry season from January to mid-April. Both sexes collaborate in constructing a simple stick nest without lining, usually situated on a small branch and partially concealed by leaves. While the exact clutch size is unknown, it is presumed to be one or two eggs. Incubation and fledging periods are not well documented but are speculated to align with those of related species.


The Cocos cuckoo's song, a guttural series of "Eeh-eeh-eeh-eeh-eeh-eeeh-eeeehh" notes, is most often heard during the breeding season, particularly from dawn until noon. However, recordings of this elusive song are rare.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Cocos cuckoo as Vulnerable due to its very limited range and small population, estimated between 250 and 1000 mature individuals. The species faces threats from feral cats, pigs, goats, and deer, which either prey upon the cuckoo or degrade its habitat. Increasing tourism and climate change also pose potential risks to its survival.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Cocos Cuckoos on Birda


More Cuckoos

A photo of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis)

Fan-tailed Cuckoo

Cacomantis flabelliformis
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Wonderful App
Birda is my go to app for keeping records of my bird sightings and sessions. It has fantastic information which is great at aiding identification. With all the updates that are coming in the new year, this app is something special.
Ideal Birdwatch Companion
Simply adds to the enjoyment of my birdwatching and helps me record what I’ve seen.
Very Wholesome App
Joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter 😄
Really useful
Downloaded to give it a try, everything worked perfectly, recorded my first bird watching walk. Very impressed. Have already recommended to friends!
Loving it
I really enjoy being able to interact with other birders on this platform! This seems like a great way to meet other birders and find some new spots.
Makes you want to spot birds more
I think this app is fun. It makes you want to spot birds more so I guess in a way it encourages you to get out and about instead of sitting in front of the TV.
Dan R
Great app for bird fanatics
Great app for bird fanatics - very user friendly and a perfect place to share sightings.
David C
Very knowledgeable group
Nice friendly birding community. Very knowledgeable group with a willingness to help.
Unbridled Discoveries
Great app for bird lovers
I love this app! It’s a wonderful way to track birding sessions, and also connect you with fellow birders. I also really like the unidentified bird section, it’s a great community tool to help figure out what a never-before-seen bird is!
Great bird recording
For a while I’ve been trying to find an app to easily record bird lists and day out and struggled to find one that I like. Birda is great for this, straightforward and a great community!
As featured in
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Giving back
Connect with us
Copyright © 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.