Cuckoo, Guira

Guira guira

Adult length: 13 in (34 cm); coloration: whitish-buff underparts and rump, dark brownish upperparts, a broadly white-tipped dark tail that is relatively long, an orange-rufous crest, bare yellow ocular-skin, and a relatively heavy, orange-yellow bill; appearance: shaggy looking.








Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay


Open and semi-open habitats

Life Expectancy

Unknown, lifespan of some other species of cuckoos are estimated to be 9-10 years.

Sexual Maturity



In the wild, they eat frogs, invertebrates, eggs, nestling birds, and small mammals; in the Zoo, they are fed a scientifically developed, commercially available pelleted parrot diet and bird of prey diet, a variety of fruit and vegetables, and insects.


IUCN – Endangered


The guira cuckoo is arboreal, but can frequently be seen on the ground, usually in flocks of 6 to 18 individuals. It is sometimes seen with other birds such as the smooth-billed ani (Crotophaga ani) whose behavior is similar. As it is not an accomplished flier, mostly gliding or hopping from one perch to another, it acts as an opportunistic predator, gathering small prey items on the ground or searching for them among branches. The guira cuckoo is often seen in small groups, gliding from one treetop to another foraging, while vocalizing loudly. The bird’s call is unmistakable - long and shrill, something between a long whistle and a wail. The nest is built in a tree fork 16 ft (5 m) above the ground. The eggs, 5 to 7, are dark green and covered with a chalky layer. They are incubated either in individual or community nests; in the latter one can find up to 20 eggs. Under community nests there are many broken eggs. When others aren’t looking, the cuckoos will sometimes push eggs from the nest to decrease competition for their own chicks.


These birds are known to be poor flyers but they are very quick runners on the ground; this may help them avoid predators and help them catch fast moving prey items.

Special Interests



This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Jacksonville Zoo History

The guira cuckoo first arrived in the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens animal collection in 2003 and they have successfully bred here.


Emerald Forest Aviary