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Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo Coccyzus vetula

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  • © Eric Hynes

The Lizard-Cuckoos of the Caribbean Basin are truly a unique sight, with reptilian features, well suited to their former genus name Saurothera. The bill is especially disctinctive for cuckoos, as it is long and rectangular, with straight sides. Most forest-dwelling cuckoos, despite their size and often beaustiful plumage, can be quite difficult to get a look at, because they can be secretive and will often sit in the same position for extended periods of time; and the Jamaican Lizard-cuckoo is no exception.  Though it is widely distributed throughout Jamaica, it is the less-vocal of the two endemic cuckoos to Jamaica (the other is the Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo Coccyzus pluvialis). Consequently, this species can be unexpectedly difficult to find, making a good look at one of these birds all the more rewarding. Jamaican Lizard-cuckoos run through the canopy of forest edge and secondary forest, often making short, gliding flights from tree to tree in search of small animals (especially lizards).  While the bill shape alone makes the Jamaican Lizard-cuckoo distinctive within Jamaica, the plumage is striking. The throat is whitish-gray, the cap is slate, and the underparts are a rich peach. The long, graduated tail is black below with large, white apical spots to the rectrices, and the back is grayish-olive.

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© Linda R Macaulay

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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-breeding

Recommended Citation

Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo (Coccyzus vetula), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/jamlic1