THE MANGROVE CUCKOO ON ABACO
Summer is icumen in, that’s for sure. Has already cumen in, to be accurate. The approach of summer is the time when cuckoos tend to sing loudly (not lewdly, as the old lingo might suggest). The YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, recently featured, is one. The MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor) is another. Before I get on to some gorgeous pictures (none taken by me!), let’s have a sample of how this species sounds. The call has been described in various ways, for example as “gawk gawk gawk gawk gauk gauk”. I’m not so sure. And I can’t think of a sensible way to write it out phonetically. So I won’t. Please try, via the comment box…
Jesse Fagan / Xeno-Canto
Cornell Lab / Allaboutbirds
You will notice that all three birds above have got fat insects in their beaks. A lot of photos in the archive show feeding mangrove cuckoos. Maybe that’s when they are most likely to break cover, for they are quite a shy species. Their preference is for caterpillars and grasshoppers, but they are happy to eat other insects, spiders, snails, lizards and (with a nod to an all-round healthy diet) fruit.
Delphi is lucky to have some of these handsome birds lurking in dense foliage along the drives – the guest drive in particular. Some of these photographs were taken there. Occasionally you may see one flying across a track ahead of a vehicle, flashing its distinctive tail. It’s significant that only the last of these photos shows the bird right out in the open – the rest are all deeper in the coppice.
Credits: Bruce Hallett, Alex Hughes, Tom Sheley, Gerlinde Taurer and the late Tony Hepburn; Audio – Xeno-Canto & Cornell Lab. All photos taken on Abaco!