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Bay-breasted Cuckoo Coccyzus rufigularis
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This species is considered Endangered because it has recently been recorded from only two small areas where there is ongoing habitat loss and hunting. Conservation action is urgently required to effectively protect known locations and locate additional populations.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Use of the genus Coccyzus follows AOU (2006).

Hyetornis rufigularis Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Hyetornis rufigularis BirdLife International (2004), Hyetornis rufigularis BirdLife International (2000), Hyetornis rufigularis Collar et al. (1994), Piaya rufigularis Stotz et al. (1996)

45-50 cm. Large cuckoo with heavy, curved bill and distinctive, reddish-brown throat and breast. Grey above with reddish-brown primary patch. Reddish-brown throat and breast. Ochraceous belly and undertail. Glossy black tail with broad white tips to rectrices. Female slightly larger than male. Similar spp. Hispaniolan Lizard-cuckoo Saurothera longirostris has long, straight bill, red orbital area and grey breast. Voice Various but most recognizable is a forceful cua, often followed by accelerating u-ak-u-ak-ak-ak-ak-ak-ak ak-ak. Hints Best located by call.

Distribution and population
Hyetornis rufigularis occurs in Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and apparently suffered a dramatic decline in range and numbers during the 20th century. It is considered extremely rare, if not extinct, in Haiti, and has already been extirpated from Gonâve Island. There are two known sites that support breeding populations, near the village of Puerto Escondido on the northern slope of Sierra de Bahorucos and near the village of Rio Limpio at the base of Nalga de Maco National Park on the lower northern slope of the Cordillera Central (L. Woolaver in litt. 2007). Both known populations are very small (likely to be less than 50 pairs at each site) (L. Woolaver in litt. 2007). Based on current knowledge, it is extremely localised, but there may still be other populations throughout the island, such as at El Tetero on the lower southern slope of the Cordillera Central on the edge of José del Carmen Ramírez National Park, where there have been convincing local reports (L. Woolaver in litt. 2007).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
There are no new data on population trends; however, the species is likely to have undergone a rapid decline over the last ten years, owing to habitat loss and hunting. This decline may slow over the next ten years.

It is found from the lowlands to 900 m, and sometimes higher (Payne 1997). Its preferred habitat appears to be the narrow transition zone between dry forest and moist broadleaf forest, but it has also been reported from the arid lowlands, mixed pine and broadleaf forest, montane rainforest and even overgrown pasture in agricultural areas. It feeds primarily on lizards and insects (L. Woolaver in litt. 2007). Birds have a very short breeding season which appears to be closely tied to the onset of the wet season and a bloom of cicadas, which is by far the most abundant food item fed to nestlings (L. Woolaver in litt. 2007). Loose stick nests are built (3-11 m above the ground) in trees that have concealing epiphytes or leaves, and are active in May-April. Clutches of two eggs, greyish with a chalky white coating, are most common although a clutch of three has been recorded (L. Woolaver in litt. 2007).

Its decline is probably associated with deforestation for agriculture, habitat degradation through high levels of grazing, hunting for food, and possibly the use of agrochemicals.

Conservation Actions Underway
It has occurred in four protected areas in the Dominican Republic, but there are recent records from only the Sierra de Bahoruco and Nalga de Maco National Parks (S. Latta in litt. 1998). Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct a thorough, targeted survey using tape-playback throughout its potential range during the breeding season. Confirm the presence of a population at El Tetero. Effectively protect Sierra de Bahoruco and Nalga de Maco National Parks. Assess the impact of habitat modification, hunting and agrochemicals. Initiate a community education and awareness programme in communities near remaining known populations. Continue research on the basic ecology of the species and determine territory sizes so as to more accurately estimate population sizes for this species and consider establishing a captive population for future reintroduction and supplementation efforts.

Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Latta, S.; Rimmer, C.; Keith, A.; Wiley, J.; Raffaele, H.; McFarland, K.; Fernandez, E. 2006. Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, U.S.A.

Payne, R. B. 1997. Cuculidae (Cuckoos). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 508-607. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.

Kirwan, G., Woolaver, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Coccyzus rufigularis. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Bay-breasted cuckoo (Coccyzus rufigularis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
Species name author (Hartlaub, 1852)
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 880 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species