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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mangrove Cuckoo, the holy grail of SW FL birding

Mangrove Cuckoos are striking, but elusive birds found in Southwest Florida.

They can sit still in the vegetation and you would never know they were near you.

The long tail (folded here) has bold white tips to outer tail feathers.

Perhaps the most sought after species for birders in Southwest Florida is the Mangrove Cuckoo. With its limited range and secretive habits, its like the holy grail for these birders. We recently ran into a birder at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge who has been searching for more than 10 years for this bird. We have been lucky and seen it a number of times at Ding Darling in winter, but usually there are only a handful of sightings of it there during this time.

Mangrove Cuckoos are the rarest of the landbird specialists inhabiting mangroves and research indicates their population is in decline. However, exciting new research is now going on at J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, Florida, on the Mangrove Cuckoo to help shed light on the habits and behavior of this elusive bird, about which very little is known. 

The Ecostudies Institure, with support from the JN Ding Darling and Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuges and Disney's Wildlife Conservation Fund, will study the cuckoos by putting radio transmitters on a few of them, to learn about their nesting ecology, habitat preferences, and seasonal movements. Hopefully this will aid in the future conservation of this species. To follow the progress of the project, see their facebook page.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful bird and oustanding photo of it. I've never heard the name before, thrilling for you !!

CAA/PSL,Fl.

Kevin said...

Thanks for some beautiful shots of a species I have yet to see in person. It's great to hear that Ding Darling and other groups are doing research that will hopefully inform and promote conservation efforts.

Linda Rockwell said...

Beautiful bird and stunning photos. A total WOW!

Tuckertown said...

You are very fortunate to have spotted this bird and better yet to have photographed it. I am a South Florida native and I used to see these birds as a kid. Now they are virtually impossible to find except protected places such as Ding Darling. I am thinking about contacting the research team on this project.

Anonymous said...

There are two building a nest in the mangroves in our yard. Today one walked up to the edge of our lani and watched us eat pizza. Englewood, FL.