Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mangrove Cuckoo

Mangrove Cuckoo
According to one Costa Rican field guide, Mangrove Cuckoo is an "uncommon to locally fairly common nonbreeding visitor (December—June) in lowlands and foothills of northern Pacific slope, becoming rare south along coast and in Golfo Dulce district; locally to 3600 ft (1100 m) as in western Valle Central; on Caribbean slope regular only in extreme northwest, rarely east to Río Frío region; may breed in very small numbers in lowland Guanacaste" (Stiles & Skutch 1989).

The more recent Garrigues & Dean (2007) summarizes this information, noting the bird is a "fairly uncommon Central American migrant from December to June in northwestern Pacific lowlands; uncommon to rare in southern Pacific lowlands and in western Central Valley."

Not a bird then one would expect on the Caribbean coast.

However, the checklist for Tortuguero, found in Ralph et al. (2008), does list Mangrove Cuckoo as a rare resident.

Mangrove Cuckoo
Here it is, poking its head out of the vegetation. I found this bird on an afternoon walk today near the Mawamba Lodge, a couple of hundred meters from where I'm staying here in Tortuguero (CCC).

Note the all dark upper mandible, the absence of rufous in the wing, the more pronounced dark mask, and the buffy wash on the underparts - all features that distinguish this species from Yellow-billed Cuckoo. There's a difference in the tail pattern also, but these photos don't capture that aspect very well.

Cited literature:
Garrigues, R. and R. Dean. 2007. The Birds of Costa Rica: a Field Guide. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, NY.
Ralph, C.J., M. Widdowson, B. Widdowson, B. O'Donnell & R.I. Frey. 2008. Tortuguero Bird Monitoring Station Protocol, unpublished draft version January 2008.
Stiles, F. G. and A. F. Skutch. 1989. A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, NY.

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