Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)

Yellow-billed Cuckoo


The yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is a cuckoo. Common folk-names for this bird in the southern United States are rain crow and storm crow. These likely refer to the bird's habit of calling on hot days, often presaging rain or thunderstorms.

Distribution And Habitat

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo occurs from the United States through South America including the West Indies, where one population consists of uncommon to rare breeding residents from May to August on Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Virgin Islands (Raffaele and others 1998). Another population migrates south from North America during September and October and returns to the north during March and April (Raffaele and others 1998). As a migrant, it is common in the southern part of The Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico, while it is uncommon in the northern part of The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and Jamaica, and rare in the Virgin Islands (Raffaele and others 1998). It is described as a rare passage migrant in spring, and extremely rare in summer and fall on Vieques (Gemmill 2015). However, during migration and winter it can be found anywhere in the islands. This species usually inhabits dry forests and lowland scrub (Raffaele and others 1998), and it mostly occurs in dry coastal regions in Puerto Rico (Biaggi 1997). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 44 records within 33 hexagons or 7 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 33 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 3 percent (1) of the hexagons, probable in 6 percent (2), and possible in 64 percent (21), while the species was observed in 27 percent (9) of the hexagons but without evidence of breeding (see map). Yellow-billed Cuckoo distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 69Yellow-billed Cuckoo/Pájaro Bobo Piquiamarillo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Distribution

Breeding Habits

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo builds a cup-shaped nest made of twigs and dried grass, which is usually placed low in a bush (Raffaele and others 1998). Previously published reports indicate that it breeds from April to July (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results show that this species breeds mostly from April to August, with one record each in February and November, and a peak in May (see chart). Results show that this species breeds mostly within the subtropical dry forest life zone (79 percent of the hexagons) (see table), but it may also breed in subtropical moist forests (21 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The current population trend of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo is described as decreasing in North America (BirdLife International 2016, Butcher and Niven 2007). This species is currently listed as a species of Least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo has a protected habitat in land of 10 percent or 58 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (575 km2).