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Great Lizard Cuckoo - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Dave 2x
Cuba, March 2012

Alternative Name(s): Cuban Lizard Cuckoo

Coccyzus merlini



  • Olive-brown upperparts with rufous primaries
  • Light grey breast
  • Rufous belly
  • Long grey tail with black subterminal band and broad white tips, all grey central rectrices
  • Red bare skin around eye
  • Grey to brown eye
  • Long straight bill, blackish above and paler below
  • bahamensis without rufous on primaries
  • decolor with greyish brown upperparts
  • santamariae with longer bill


Cuba and the Bahamas.
Common to fairly common in its small range.
Used in traditional medicine for restoration of sexual powers and claimed effectiveness in convalescence.


Four subspecies are recognized:

  • C. m. bahamansis on the Bahamas (Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera)
  • C. m. merlini in Cuba
  • C. m. santamariae on islands off north-central Cuba
  • C. m. decolor on Isle of Pines

Some authorities place this species in genus Saurothera.


Wooded to bushy areas


A rather tame species.


Feeds on lizards and locusts.
May look for food both in trees and bushes and on the ground, where it will then walk or run with the tail held erect.


The nest is a shallow saucer made of twigs and placed in a tree. Lays 2 to 3 eggs.


This is a resident species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1997. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334221

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