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Lesser Ground Cuckoo - BirdForum Opus

Photo by megan perkins
Rincon de la Vieja, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, March 2010

Alternative name: Rufous-rumped Cuckoo

Morococcyx erythropygus


25 cm (10-11 inches) long.

  • Greyish brown upperparts with bronzy reflections on wings and long tail
  • Rufous underparts
  • Yellow bare eye-ring and lores, bare skin behind eye blue with black border
  • Brown eye
  • Yellow bill with black culmen
  • erythropygus is larger and paler

Sexes similar. Juveniles are duller above, scaled with pale feather edges and paler below, smudged dusky. Their bare orbital skin is grey, the bill brown above and lighter below.


Mexico through Central America south to northern Costa Rica.
Fairly common in its range.


Two subspecies are recognized:

  • M. e. mexicanus on the Pacific slope of tropical western Mexico from southern Sinaloa south to Isthmus of Tehuantepec
  • M. e. erythropygus from southern Mexico (hills of Oaxaca on eastern side of Plains of Tehuantepec east to Chiapas) to northwest Costa Rica, and also arid interior valleys on Caribbean slope of Guatemala and Honduras


Undergrowth in woodland and scrub, mostly in arid areas.
Occurs from sea-level up to 1500m, locally up to 1800m.


Stays low in dense cover. A furtive, skulking but inquisitive bird. Not shy.


Feeds on insects, mainly on grasshoppers. Forages on bare ground and in understorey.


Breeding season May in southern Mexico, July in Guatemala. The nest is a shalow bowl made of sticks. It's placed on the ground. Lays 2 eggs.


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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