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Neomorphus rufipennis

Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo

  • Order: Cuculiformes
  • Family: Cuculidae

Authors: Kirwan, Guy M

Neomorphus rufipennis

Guyana; 21 March 2010 © Timothy Boucher

Described more than 150 years ago, based on a specimen from the lower Orinoco River in Venezuela, the Rufous-winged Ground Cuckoo remains a largely mysterious species even in the present day. It is confined to the northeastern corner of South America, in Guyana (arguably the species’ stronghold), southern Venezuela, northernmost Brazil in the state of Roraima, and west as far as eastern Colombia. It is unlikely to be confused with any other species, although Red-billed Ground-Cuckoo (Neomorphus pucheranii) might still prove to be more widespread than currently known in southeast Colombia, and might occur sympatrically with the present species. From the latter, Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo should be easily separated by its red wings and heavily scaled breast. Like other members of the Neomorphus, the species is most likely to be detected by its distinctive, relatively loud bill-snaps, but the song, a single hooting note, is also heard reasonably regularly in areas where this ground-cuckoo is well known. The Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo is typically encountered running (it is capable of moving very swiftly indeed) across the floor of tropical evergreen forest (sometimes in areas of subject to seasonal flooding), although it has also been observed in the midstory. Grasshoppers, crickets, and spiders have all been recorded in this ground-cuckoo’s diet, but most aspects of the species’ life history are basically unknown, although the eggs have been described, and from published observations it appears that both sexes care for the young.

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Recommended Citation

Kirwan, Guy M. 2010. Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo (Neomorphus rufipennis), 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.

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