Documentation of Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Observer Information

Reporter:  Polly Neldner  PO Box 358,   La Veta, CO  81055
Other Observers:  None; Polly and Paul Neldner

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Yellow-billed Cuckoo
First Date/Time:  6/4/2011
Last Date/Time: 
Duration (total time in view):  approximately 1 hour
County:  Huerfano
Specific Location:  151 County Road 359 La Veta, CO
Number:  1
Age:  Unknown
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Other/Unknown


This is rural yard, with mixed coniferous and deciduous trees...bird was in dense foliage that screens our house from the creek near by last evening. This morning it was perched in a Box Elder Tree

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  swarovski 8.5X42 Binoculars, nikon 8X32 Binoculars, 500 mm lens
Distance:  as close as 15 ft. as far away as 30 ft.
Light:  Early morning light at around 6:00 am. Clear day

Description of the Bird

Long slender bird, stout mostly yellow bill, white chin, breast and belly, large white tips on black feathers, back was light brown
Behaviors: Bird was very secretive last evening...even though it called incessantly we were unable to locate it. This morning we heard it first thing this morning. It was seen perching on a high branch in one of our box elder trees...and was calling from there. Held itself very upright and still, tilting it's head toward sound.
Call: Heard first, then compared to call on iPod. Most commonly hear calls were the knocking series...ku-ku-ku-kuku-ku-kddowl-kdowl and tok tok tok
Plumage: Adult

Similar Species Discussion

Bird was unmistakable. Eliminated from Black-billed Cuckoo, by stout mostly yellow bill, Black-billed's tail would have small, distinct white tips, this bird had white edged tail with bold white on black feathers, Black-billed Cuckoo would have red orbital eye ring, this bird did not. This bird had rufous on wings when it flew and bold white spots on tail. Black-billed would have little or no rufous and small white tips on the tail. Mangrove Cuckoo not considered due to range, lack of dark mask on this bird, call, and pure white belly of this bird.

Resources Used

Sibley's Guide to Birds

Previous Experience

We have seen Mangrove Cuckoo on St. John


Notes made DURING observation

Additional Information

Comments: We listened to the bird for over 40 minutes last evening, and compare it's calls to those on our iPod. We saw and heard the bird very well this morning. Heard it calling again this evening. While not considered rare for Colorado, we believe it is unusual for our area.
Time: 6:45 pm until dark
Elevation: 7000 ft
Other Dates: Sunday June 5th. Was finally seen and quite well
Nearest Town: La Veta
Independent Observers: Polly and Paul Neldner

Materials Available

Photographer: Polly Wren Neldner

Photos |

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Date Documentation Submitted

6/5/2011 9:00:00 PM
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