Bird of the Week, November 9, 2012

Banded Ground-Cuckoo


Banded Ground-Cuckoo by Roger Ahlman


This secretive, ground-dwelling bird resembles a modern-day velociraptor.  Birders lucky enough to spot it see a large, long-legged bird with glossy blue-black upperparts, chestnut wings and lower back, and banded underparts. Its song is a repeated, deep, cow- or dove-like moo.


Essentially a forest roadrunner, the Banded Ground-Cuckoo can cover great distances on its long legs, and maintains extensive territories. They feed on large insects flushed by army ant swarms and groups of forest mammals such as peccaries. The bird apparently can track multiple army ant groups simultaneously.

Habitat loss and degradation, particularly by the expansion of oil palm plantations, are the biggest threats to the species. Dependence on primary forest and a small, fragmented population make the Banded Ground-Cuckoo particularly vulnerable.


The species is protected in several large national reserves in Colombia and Ecuador. ABC partner Fundación ProAves protects a large block of forest in the Pangan Reserve in southern Colombia, and it is seen at the Canandé Reserve in Ecuador, owned by ABC partner Fundación Jocotoco.


Here is a video of a ground-cuckoo Un Poco del Chocó Reserve that the reserve owners are attempting to train to come when called.





Photo: Roger Ahlman; Range Map, NatureServe