At a Glance

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.
Cuckoos, Roadrunners, Anis, Perching Birds
Low Concern
Coasts and Shorelines, Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
Direct Flight, Flap/Glide, Flitter

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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.


12" (30 cm). Resembles Yellow-billed Cuckoo (big white tail spots, yellow on bill) but washed with warm buff below, has more obvious black mask, and usually looks grayer on crown.
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Robin
Black, Brown, Gray, Tan, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Long, Pointed, Tapered
Tail Shape
Long, Rounded, Wedge-shaped

Songs and Calls

Low guttural gaw-gaw-gaw-gaw-gaw, almost like a soft bark or the scolding of a squirrel.
Call Pattern
Falling, Flat
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Hoot, Raucous


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.



2, sometimes 3. Pale blue-green, fading to greenish yellow. Incubation is probably by both parents; incubation period not well known.


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

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.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

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.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Mangrove Cuckoo. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Mangrove Cuckoo

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.

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