The squirrel cuckoo (Piaya cayana) is a large and active species of cuckoo. It can be found in wooded habitats from northwestern Mexico to northern Argentina and Uruguay, and on Trinidad. The large cuckoo is extremely long-tailed about 40.5–50 centimeters long and weighs 95 to 120 grams. It is common and is most often seen in gliding from one tree to another, or enthusiastically hopping from branch to branch in hunt of a wide variety of arthropods. The adult cuckoo has mainly chestnut upper-parts and head, becoming paler on the throat. The lower breast is grey and the belly is blackish. The central tail feathers are Rufous, but the outer are black with white tips. The bill is yellow and the iris is red. Immature birds have a grey bill and eyeing, brown iris, and less white in the tail.
It looks like the little cuckoo, but that species is smaller and has a darker throat. However unique throughout its range it is highly polytypic with fourteen subspecies that vary in the coloration of their under-parts, throat, bare parts, and tail. Therefore; few of these subspecies are quite different, and due to their lack of integration with adjoining subspecies maybe represent separate species. The Squirrel Cuckoo is a common species that inhabits a diversity of forested habitats across its range, including humid to semi humid forest, deciduous forest, forest edge, second growth, plantations, and even scattered trees in open country.
There’re a number of subspecies with minor plumage variations. i.e P. c. mehleri, one of the South American subspecies, has mainly brown outer tail feathers. Moreover, the subspecies from Mexico, Central America, and northern and western South America have a yellow eye-ring, but this is red in the remaining part of South America. It is explosive kip! kip! weeuu calls, and the song is a whistled wheep wheep wheep wheep wheep. Nests are constructed in trees or in low dense growth. Although building, one partner male brings material to the other, who stays on the nest and arranges it. The completed nest comprises of a loose foundation of coarse sticks supporting a thick mass of leaves, some of which are green when brought back. The clutch typically is two egg which are chalky white and unmarked; the eggs may become stained brown by the leaves in the nest. Source: Charismatic Planet