Friday, March 10, 2023

Chestnut-Bellied Cuckoo

My most extensive experience with a bird in Jamaica was with the chestnut-bellied cuckoo. I was with Lyndon Johnson, my birding guide, in the garden at Hotel Mockingbird Hill east of Port Antonio. He heard its call and got quite excited. He played its call on his cell phone to get it to come closer and for what was probably 20 minutes or so we followed it around the garden. We would catch a glimpse, I'd go close for a photo, it would fly, we would locate it, I'd go close for a photo, it would fly, and so on. I took more photos of it than any other bird on our trip, by far. What stood out was its tail, particularly when it was fanned out - it was gigantic and beautiful! 
This image stands out in my mind. The huge tail fanned out like a commercial hand-held fan and a glimpse of its chestnut belly above, otherwise obscured by the vegetation. 
It is endemic to Jamaica, widespread, but "uncommon and not well known..." 

Like the Jamaican lizard cuckoo, half the length of this cuckoo is its tail. The tail is black with large white tips and a purple gloss. It has dull brown upperparts, a light gray face and breast with a pale throat and a dark rufous or chestnut belly. 


1 comment:

  1. what a spectacular tail. I can see how it could aid with camouflage in the trees speckled with light.