Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2015-19

Common name:

Black-billed Cuckoo

Scientific name: coccyzus erythropthalmus
Date: May 9, 2015
Time: 11:00
Length of time observed: at least 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: unknown
Location: on the border of the Scott M. Matheson Wetland Preserve 
County: Grand
Elevation: 4000'
Distance to bird: 10 to 20 feet
Optical equipment: binoculars
Weather: sunny
Light Conditions: shady
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape: it had a very long tail
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: gray on top, white on bottom
(Description:)            Bill Type: slender and dark
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
While counting birds for the International Migratory Bird Day my group of six people observed a black-billed cuckoo. This bird is not on the preserve's checklist. Three people in my group are knowledgeable birders and we all confirmed this sighting. Unfortunately we were unable to get any good photos. We could, however, during our observation identify the pure black bill, the primaries, which had no rufous and the small indistinct white spots in the tail.
Song or call & method of delivery: We heard no song.
Behavior: It was quietly popping in and out of view. Our presence didn't seen to cause any disruption giving us a good chance to observe him.
Habitat: Russian olives and other thick brush
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
yellow-billed cuckoo - this bird had a pure black bill, not a yellow one. It had no rufous in the primaries and the white spot in the tail were small unlike the large distinctive white spots of the yellow-billed.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
None of us had ever seen this species before.
References consulted: Sibley's Field Guide 
Ken Kaufmann's Field Guide
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Marcia A. Hafner
Observer's address: P. O. Box 13, Moab, UT 84532
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Kay MaClean 
Mary Collar 
Hannah Hinchman
Date prepared: June 1, 2015
Additional material: