Banded ground-cuckoo -- 斑鸡鹃 (Neomorphus radiolosus)

Banded ground-cuckoo, close-up
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Banded ground-cuckoo fact file

Banded ground-cuckoo description

GenusNeomorphus (1)

The banded ground-cuckoo (Neomorphus radiolosus) is one of the rarest and least known birds in Ecuador. It is a relatively large, striking bird with iridescent blackish-blue plumage. Its wings and lower back are chestnut coloured, and its underparts have a buffy-white banded appearance. It also has a large crest and a long, blackish glossed green tail (3) (4).

Another of the banded ground-cuckoo’s defining features is the bluish bare skin that surrounds the eye region, which has the ability to expand and contract, potentially for display purposes. The banded ground-cuckoo’s bill is large, deep and slightly curved. The bill is darker on top, with paler colouration underneath and towards the tip. The male is similar in appearance to the female; however the juvenile is duller in colour and lacks the banding pattern (2). The banded ground-cuckoo occasionally makes deep pitched vocalisations which are reported to sound like a deep, low “moo” (2) (4)

Also known as
Banded ground cuckoo.
Length: 50 cm (2)

Banded ground-cuckoo biology

The banded ground-cuckoo is a ground forager, rummaging for food on foot through the forest undergrowth (4). It searches primarily for invertebrates, such as grasshoppers, but also some vertebrates such as frogs. Another primary food source is the swarms of army ants, which the cuckoo follows by means of short sprints alongside other foraging bird species. When a food item is found, the banded ground-cuckoo exhibits an extraordinary behaviour, running quickly in an excited zigzag pattern, kicking up leaves of the understory as it goes. This unusual running behaviour earned the cuckoo its local name “correlona” which means fast runner (2).

Unlike other cuckoo species, the banded ground-cuckoo is not a brood parasite when it comes to parental care, as it raises its own young. Breeding occurs from March to June and both parents contribute equally to the care of the single nestling, including all aspects of incubation, brooding and food provisioning (3) (6). Nests are built in the understory of trees predominantly in primary forest, at around four metres above ground level (3).


Banded ground-cuckoo range

The banded ground-cuckoo is endemic to the Chocó Biogeographical Region of South America, which extends along the western slope of the Andes mountain range. This species has been sighted in nine different areas across northwest Ecuador and southwest Colombia, within the Chocó Biogeographical Region (3) (4) (5).


Banded ground-cuckoo habitat

The banded ground-cuckoo occupies tropical lowland forest on the low slopes of the Andes at elevations of between 450 and 1,525 metres (2). Primary forest is preferred, although sightings have been recorded in the surrounding secondary forest (6).


Banded ground-cuckoo status

The banded ground-cuckoo is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Banded ground-cuckoo threats

Rapid deforestation of the Chocó Biogeographical Region presents the greatest threat to the banded ground-cuckoo. Deforestation has intensified in this region since the mid-1970s, along with increased road networks (4). Deforested land has been used for agriculture, mainly bananas and cocoa, cattle grazing at lower altitudes, gold mining and conversion to palm oil plantations (4) (5).


Banded ground-cuckoo conservation

The banded ground-cuckoo occurs in several protected areas, which include Munchique National Park and El Pangan Nature reserve in Colombia. In Ecuador, protected areas include Awacachi Biological Corridor, Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, Protective Forest Los Cedros, and Jatun Sacha Bilsa Biological Reserve, amongst others (4). However, there are currently inadequate protection measures of the national parks in place by local governments, and improved law enforcement is needed to prevent illegal logging and hunting (4) (5).

A number of conservation actions have been proposed which include the introduction of additional protected areas and sustainable management of buffer zones. Learning more about this species, including population monitoring, has also been suggested in order to develop specific conservation strategies (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

More information on the banded ground-cuckoo



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This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


Brood parasite
An animal that lays its eggs in the nests of members of its own or other species; the host then raises the young as its own.
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
The act of incubating eggs, that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
Animals with a backbone, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
  2. Payne, R.B. and Klitz, K. (2005) The Cuckoos. Oxford University Press, UK.
  3. Karubian, J., Carrasco, L., Cabrera, D., Cook, A. and Olivo, J. (2007) Nesting biology of the banded ground-cuckoo (Neomorphus radiolosus). The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 119(2): 221-227.
  4. BirdLife International (May, 2011)
  5. Lopez- Lanus, B.K., Berg, R., Strewe, R. and Salaman, P.G.W. (1999) The ecology and vocalisations of banded ground-cuckoo (Neomorphus radiolosus). Cotinga, 11: 42-45
  6. Karubain, J., Carrasco, L. (2008) Home range and habitat preferences of the banded ground-cuckoo (Neomorphus radiolosus). The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 120(1): 205-209.

Image credit

Banded ground-cuckoo, close-up  
Banded ground-cuckoo, close-up

© Jordan Karubian

Jordan Karubian
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Tulane University


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