Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Coccyzus americanus

Determining Yellow-billed Cuckoo Population Limitations Across the Annual Cycle: A Road to Recovery Pilot Species Project

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is a widely-distributed North American long-distance migratory bird species that is steeply declining (range-wide > 60% in the last 35 years). The decline of the western subspecies has been particularly severe, with a loss of over 80% of historic abundance and complete extirpation from a number of western states which has led to its listing as federally Threatened under the US Endangered Species Act in 2014. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo migrates further than most migratory songbirds in the Americas and recent satellite tracking has revealed that breeding populations across the species range spend the majority of the non-breeding season in the Gran Chaco region of South America, an area that straddles Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. Their distinctive drawn-out croaking call is commonly heard in deciduous woodlands across North America and their tendency to call before storms has led them to be known colloquially as the “rain crow”.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo sitting on a branch

Conservation Projects

With support from the Road to Recovery Initiative and funding from the Knobloch Family Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we are working to understand the drivers of population declines across the species range. Our two main projects aim to:
  1. Develop a range wide population model
  2. Address knowledge gaps about the non-breeding ecology of the species and
  3. Advance the social science knowledge needed to advance the recovery process in the Gran Chaco

Using a combination of techniques including satellite tracking, population modeling and social awareness campaigns we hope to address both the biological and social factors contributing to Yellow-billed Cuckoo declines. Our projects involve collaborators from universities and NGOs across the United States, Paraguay and Argentina. Additionally, we are working closely with the Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Working Group to coordinate recovery efforts for the western subspecies.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Lightning Talk

Lightning talk by Calandra Stanley for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo Working Group

Tracking Cuckoos: Determining when and where populations are limited across the annual cycle.

Cuclillo Pico Amarillo posado en un árbol

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Working Group

Yellow-billed Cuckoo populations in the Western United States have declined to the point where they are federally Threatened under the US Endangered Species Act and likely to become Endangered unless threats to the species —such as severe loss, degradation, and fragmentation of its required riparian habitats — are ameliorated by comprehensive and cooperative efforts.

Our mission is to bring diverse partners together to promote scientific research and monitoring that 1) contribute to the understanding of the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo population distribution, status, trends, and threats, and 2) lead to effective recovery actions

Pilot Species Working Groups

With generous support from the Knobloch Family Foundation, Road to Recovery is able to begin supporting the pilot projects focused on the recovery of four species, three of which are Tipping Point Species. The purpose of these projects is to provide a proof of concept for advancing both biological and social science targeted at identifying and addressing causes of species declines.