The Yellow-billed Cuckoo is one of two cuckoo species in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, making its home in South American during the winter. As it heads south, the Santa Ritas are often a resting spot before it continues its journey.
A medium sized bird, it has rather plain gray to brown upperparts with white on the underside. The distinctive yellow beak is a dead giveaway for identification. Also look for a long tail with white spots on the black edges.
The Yellow-billed Cuckoo is aptly named for its nesting habits. Although this sounds rather obscure, this Cuckoo no doubt has good reasons it lays eggs in the nest of another Cuckoo, or even the nest of another bird species altogether.
This species enjoys such delicacies as hairy caterpillars, larvae, fruits and berries.
If you happened upon a group of cuckoos, you would say correctly that you spotted an “asylum” of them.
Reference: The Nature of Madera Canyon by Douglas W. Moore, Friends of Madera, 1999; whatbird.com