Conservation status Probably declining in Florida Keys as habitat is lost to development, but may be expanding north slightly along coast. Still widespread in Caribbean and elsewhere in tropics.
Family Cuckoos, Roadrunners, Anis
Habitat In our area, mostly in mangroves. In Florida, lives in mangrove swamps and in groves of tropical hardwoods on the Keys and the southern mainland. Elsewhere in range, found in mangroves and in various kinds of scrubby woods, including dry forest far from water.
Birders who seek the Mangrove Cuckoo in Florida may have to contend with heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and long hours of searching. This bird is a shy denizen of dense mangrove swamps, living in impenetrable tangles, where its presence is often betrayed only by its throaty calls.

Feeding Behavior

Forages rather slowly and deliberately among mangroves or other dense growth, peering about, sometimes making short leaps or flutters to take insects from the foliage.


2, sometimes 3. Pale blue-green, fading to greenish yellow. Incubation is probably by both parents; incubation period not well known. Young: Development of young and age at first flight not well known. Probably fed by both parents, as in other cuckoos.


Development of young and age at first flight not well known. Probably fed by both parents, as in other cuckoos.


Mostly insects. Diet not known in detail. As with other cuckoos, seems to eat many caterpillars. Also feeds on grasshoppers, praying mantises, moths, flies, and other insects; also some spiders and small frogs, and probably some berries and small fruits.


Breeding behavior is not well known. Male gives low, throaty song in spring, presumably to defend territory and attract a mate. Nest: So far as known, site is in mangrove or other low tree, usually fairly low over the water or ground (probably lower than 10' in most cases), among dense foliage. Nest is a flimsy platform of sticks.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Download Our Bird Guide App


Migratory status in Florida uncertain. Recorded at all seasons and thought to be permanent resident, but more conspicuous in summer. Rare stray from Mexico north into Texas and Gulf Coast.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

Learn more

Songs and Calls

Low guttural gaw-gaw-gaw-gaw-gaw, almost like a soft bark or the scolding of a squirrel.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.