Mangrove Cuckoo

Photo by Bill Fischer

Ecostudies has been studying the ecology and life history of Mangrove Cuckoos (Coccyzus minor) at J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge since 2012. Using miniature radio-transmitters, we are tracking individuals throughout the year so as to better understand their habitat requirements and seasonal movements. We track cuckoos on the ground, by boat, and from the air.

Answering these questions is important because our previous research showed that the species was uncommon in south Florida, the only place it occurs in the United States, and that populations in southwest Florida had declined significantly. Results from this work will help us develop strategies to conserve and protect this unique and mysterious species.

Unfortunately, our funding was not renewed for this project in 2016, and we were unable to find other sources of support. Project leaders are currently writing the final report and manuscripts. We want to thank all of the wonderful supporters of this project, both through the cuckoo sponsorship program and general outreach. The lessons learned and the connections made during this project have benefited cuckoos and their habitat. It is our hope that we can revitalize this program in the coming years with new sources of funding.


Key Findings:

  • To date, we have captured and tracked 33 individuals.
  • Some Mangrove Cuckoos are present in and around Ding Darling throughout the year; however, none of our radio-marked birds has remained in any one area throughout the year. Different individuals are present at different times of the year, suggesting that Mangrove Cuckoos wander extensively before and after the breeding season.
  • Many of our radio-marked birds leave the study area at the end of the wet season, and despite extensive searches by plane we do not yet know where these birds go.
  • Mangrove Cuckoos need fairly large patches of mangrove forest – roughly 75 acres on average – during the breeding season.
  • Based on observations of juvenile birds, the breeding season in southwest Florida appears to begin in May and may continue until July.
  • Almost all of the locations where we detected Mangrove Cuckoos were on public or otherwise conserved land, highlighting the importance of land protection for the conservation of this species



  • Along with our research, we have used funding from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund to work with Ding Darling NWR to build an educational program, centered on the Mangrove Cuckoo, aimed at teaching local school groups (and adults) about the conservation of this species and its habitat. Learn more>>

Reports and Publications

  • Lloyd, J. D. 2014. Ecology and seasonal movements of Mangrove Cuckoo: Annual Report to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. {PDF}
  • Lloyd, J. D, and G L. Slater. 2013. Ecology and seasonal movements of Mangrove Cuckoo: Annual Report to Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. {PDF}
  • Frieze, R. D., S. M. Mullin, and J. D. Lloyd. 2012. Responsiveness of Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor) during call-playback surveys in southern Florida. Southeastern Naturalist: 447-454. {PDF}

Project Supporters