Black-billed Cuckoo
(Coccyzus erythropthalmus)

Summary

Picture of bird
© Wolfgang Wander - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

This species occupies wooded edges and thickets across southern Canada, from Alberta to Nova Scotia. Populations are highly variable and reflect the abundance of important insect food sources, such as the forest tent caterpillar. Results from the Breeding Bird Survey fluctuate widely from year to year but suggest an overall moderate decrease in the population in Canada relative to 1970. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow D2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate DecreaseMediumAt an Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 500,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaHigh

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late May and early June and ends in mid-August, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.
 

Conservation and management

The Black-billed Cuckoo is a valued and voracious consumer of noxious insects during outbreaks. The species' population is thought to fluctuate in response to cycles in its lepidopterous and other insect prey (Hughes 2001, Jauvin and Bombardier 1996). Causes of decline are not well known, although control of insect outbreaks with pesticides may have been partly responsible for declines in some areas (Hughes 2001). Habitat degradation and fragmentation may also be a factor (Hughes 2001).

 

Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NB -- Conservation
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Other
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, PE -- Other
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Conservation
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario and Manitoba -- Stewardship
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Stewardship
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation & Stewardship
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Conservation & Stewardship
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation & Stewardship
 

References