Nests & Eggs: Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Plate 45: Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Coccyzus americanus

Shy, solitary birds better known by their note than by sight.

This slim, long-tailed bird is far more common than people suspect for he seldom is seen. He prefers to move slowly thru the heavy foliage, peering under each branch and leaf for the leaf-eating worms which form his diet. Wooly worms, which other birds seem to shun, are relished by him. His long bill is a perfect tool for breaking into webs where he creates havoc with the wiggly inhabitants.

Cuckoos are larger than Robins and their long tails make them look even longer than the 12¼ inches which they measure. They fly directly from the center of one tree to the next, thus giving us a chance to check the rufous coloring of the wings and the large white spots on the ends of their black tails. The back is dark gray while the breast and belly are white. The yellow lower bill, the rufous wings and larger white spots on the tail are the main difference between this and the slightly smaller Black-billed Cuckoo. Both have a series of clucking notes but the Yellow-billed Cuckoo song gets slower, then runs down the scale, different from his relative’s long efforts.

Unlike the Old-World cuckoos which depend on other birds to rear their young, the Yellow-billed builds a nest, altho it is flimsy. There, the 3 or 4 young get their start in life.

An Introduction to Our Bird Friends, Vol. 1
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the yellow-billed cuckoo story in Bird Biographies out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate XLV: Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the yellow-billed cuckoo at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • The yellow-billed cuckoo is covered in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER XXXIV. Mourner Dove and the Cuckoo.

Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
Bird picture for notebook.

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:
Nest & Eggs ~ Intro & Free eBook
Free Bird Studies: Nests & Eggs ~ Complete Series

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