Cocos Cuckoo Coccyzus ferrugineus

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

Conservation and Management

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Conservation Status

VULNERABLE. Uncommon, and vulnerable owing to its small range. It is confined to the forests of Isla del Coco, which has a total area of just 24 km². It is the least common of the endemic landbirds of that island. This is a poorly known cuckoo, and it is possibly under-recorded in the interior forests of Isla del Coco. Populations should be closely monitored. The island is protected as a National Park since 1978 and as a Marine Conservation Area. In addition, in 1997 UNESCO declared it a World Natural Heritage Site and in 1998 it was declared as a Ramsar site. Despite the fact that the Cocos Cuckoo was the first bird described for Costa Rica, it was not until 2016 that the first studies focused on this species were initiated (1). The island is visited by many tourists, but diving is the main tourism attraction, and most tourists do not land on the island. Only a small area of ​​the island is dedicated to the few buildings for park rangers, and the vast majority of the island area is not visited by humans. In addition, conservation strategies are carried out for the protection of the Island and its biological richness not only to protect this bird and other endemic birds but also to defend it against illegal fishing and shark finning.

Effects of Human Activity

The main threats that Cocos Cuckoo faces are: a) predation by non-native mammalian species (16); b) changes in the plant community structure (e.g., interference with recruitment and natural regeneration) stemming from the introduction of non-native plant species (14); and c) global climatic phenomena such as El Niño Southern Oscillation and La Niña, the effects of which may be exacerbated by global warming. Additionally, rats also consume insects, such as caterpillars and cockroaches, that form a large part of the diet of the cuckoo (16, 1).


Cocos Cuckoo is one of the least studied species of Coccyzus, and probably is the most vulnerable bird in the island. The impact of non-native species on endemic birds and forests of Isla del Coco still is little known. For this reason it is necessary to establish a management strategy for the conservation of this endemic bird. To complete this conservation effort, a permanent multifactorial monitoring program that allows determining the management actions for conservation guaranteeing the maintenance of the island biodiversity should be conducted.

The first step within the strategic management plan is to study in detail the risks and benefits of any current action or inaction. Such a management plan requires an understanding of the ecological effects of non-native species and of their interactions with native species, as well as an appreciation of the effects of climate change. This calls for the development of a permanent, systematic monitoring plan at the ecosystem level, which includes demographic components of all relevant coupled with prediction models for different possible scenarios. This approach will allow the development of management priorities and a correct categorization of essential habitats for Cocos Cuckoo, and provide a framework for mitigation of the main threats it faces.

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