Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo

Photo of PR Lizard Cuckoo, P��jaro Bobo Mayor

Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo (Eng.), Pájaro Bobo Mayor (Sp.), Saurothera vieilloti (sci.) Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

Photo by:  Mark Oberle

General Information

Cuckoos are slender birds with long tails and long, thin, slightly curved bills. They move very slowly foraging for prey through the forest. Cuckoos do not swoop or circle in flight but generally fly in a direct line.


The Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo is 16 to 19 inches (40 to 48 centimeters) long and weighs about 2.7 ounces (80 grams). It can be identified by its gray chin and breast and reddish-tan underbelly. It has a very long dark tail with prominent white spots underneath and red ringed eyes.


The Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo moves slowly through the vines and thickets of the middle story and upper canopy of the rain forest foraging for prey. Its favorite food source (about of its diet) is provided by the abundant lizard population in the forest. It also eats large spiders, beetles, stick bugs and caterpillars. The cuckoo often keeps its body still while it twists its neck at an angle to strike its prey. This bird is often difficult to see because of its slow movement through the foliage, but after it rains it can sometimes be seen in the open drying-off and preening its feathers. Its song is a rapid cow-cow-cow-crrk, not unlike the sound a Halloween witch makes. The Cuckoo nest is a twig platform in a tree or large bush and usually contains up to 3 blue eggs.

CLICK HERE to hear the sound of this bird.


The Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo is endemic to (only found in) Puerto Rico. It is found in forest thickets, woodlands and coffee plantations throughout the island.

Look for it in the EYNF

At the El Portal Visitors Center, around the parking lots and especially on the EL Portal Trail, which is located, near the lower parking lot. Early morning (before 10:00 AM) and late afternoon (after 4:00 pm) hours when the area is cool are the best times to hear and see birds. They are also actively calling just before a rainfall.