Cocos Cuckoo Coccyzus ferrugineus

Javier Tenorio Brenes
Version: 2.0 — Published October 22, 2020


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The breeding season of Cocos Cuckoo coincides with the dry season of Isla del Coco (January-mid April; 1). It uses the entire altitudinal gradient of the island from sea level to the Tropical Cloud Forest up to 400 m above sea level. The nest, built by both the male and female, is cup-shaped built with twigs and sticks, and is overall flimsy in structure. They nest both in open areas at the edge of the forest and in the interior of the island's forest, with nearby rivers (1). They build the nest in a small tree on a secondary branch 2.5 m from the ground, and trees are chosen based on their foliar density, such that the leaves of the crown protect the nest from direct exposure to the sun or possible rain (1). When incubating, a single adult sits on the nest, positioned in a way that leaves the tail and head extending from the nest (1). Both male and female feed the chicks, and it appears that pairs raise 1-2 chicks per nesting attempt (1).


Breeding is initiated at the beginning of the dry season (January to mid-April). Cuckoos may time their breeding to the dry season because the beginning of the dry season is also when their favored prey items breed explosively, likely resulting in an ample food supply for feeding chicks (1).

Nest Site


Of two nests found, one was placed in a Citrus aurantifolia tree (Rutaceae; 1) located at the edge of the forest within a matrix made up of riparian forest where the adult had a wide viewing angle from the nest for protection and surveillance (1). The second nest was found at the beach in a Terminalia cattapa tree (Tenorio et al. in press). Both of these trees were small with a wide canopy and abundant leaf density (1, Tenorio et al., in press).

Site Characteristics

Each of the two nests found were placed about 2.5 m above the ground, in small trees with wide canopies and high leaf density (1, Tenorio et al., in press). The nest placed in the Citrus aurantifolia tree was protected from the sun by the leaves , and was placed on a secondary branch (1).


Construction Process

Both members of pair contribute to building the nest. The presumed male obtains dry twigs by taking them from the ground or directly from the branch of a tree, and gives them to the presumed female at the nest site, where she incorporates the twigs into the nest (Tenorio et al., in press).

Structure and Composition

The nest is cup-shaped, but very shallow. It is built of twigs and sticks, and is unlined, resulting in a flimsy nest.


The eggs and clutch size are undescribed. The few nests found to date were discovered after eggs hatched. However, based on observations of chicks, it appears that the clutch size likely is 1-2 eggs (1).


The head and tail of the incubating adult protrude from opposites sides of the nest. Both parents incubate, as in other species of ;Coccyzus. The incubation period presumably is 10-15 d, as in other Coccyzus species (1).

Young Birds

Growth and Development

Young birds are altricial and depend on biparental care for at least four weeks, although they leave the nest within a few days of hatching (1).

Parental Care


Adults make solitary visits to feed the young. Prey typically is beaten against a branch before being passed to the begging juvenile; meanwhile the juvenile increases the volume and frequency of its calls, same time extending its tail in a shape fan and raises it slightly (1). Adults feed the young twice a day with only one prey (typically crickets or cockroaches) per occasion.

Recommended Citation

Tenorio Brenes, J. (2020). Cocos Cuckoo (Coccyzus ferrugineus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (T. S. Schulenberg, S. M. Billerman, and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.coccuc1.02