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Piaya cayana

Squirrel Cuckoo

  • Order: Cuculiformes
  • Family: Cuculidae
  • Polytypic 14 Subspecies

Authors: Fitzgerald, Jenny, Thomas S. Schulenberg, and Glenn Seeholzer

Piaya cayana

Caçapava/SP, Brazil; 20 January 2009 © Emerson Kaseker

The Squirrel Cuckoo is a pan-Neotropical inhabitant of a large diversity of forested, wooded, and disturbed habitats across the entire humidity gradient from tropical deciduous forest, coffee plantations, and gallery forests to primary humid lowland rainforest. It is common and is most often seen in gliding from one tree to another, or energetically hopping from branch to branch in search of a wide variety of arthropods. Though distinctive throughout its range it is highly polytypic with fourteen subspecies that vary in the coloration of their underparts, throat, bare parts, and tail. Some of these subspecies are quite distinct, and due to their lack of  integration with adjoining subspecies perhaps represent separate species.

Recommended Citation

Fitzgerald, Jenny, Thomas S. Schulenberg, and Glenn Seeholzer. 2011. Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical lowland evergreen forest
  • Foraging Strata:Midstory/Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Flutter-chase
  • Diet:Small vertebrates and large arthropods
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Platform
  • Clutch: 2 - 3
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern