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Only two of Costa Rica's 11 species of cuckoos practice brood parasitismo

European cuckoos lay their eggs in the nest of another species and then let another bird raise their young, a behavior known as brood parasitismo. Only two of Costa Rica's 11 species of cuckoos practice this. Most of the cuckoos are slim, long-tailed birds, skulking stealthily through vegetation rather than flying.

The most common is the squirrel cuckoo (cuco ardilla; Piaya cayana), which is 46cm long, with the boldly black-and-white-striped tail taking up about half that length. The rest of the body is mainly rufous brown, with a gray belly and yellow bill and eye ring. It is hard to mistake this combination for any other bird. It is found creeping along branches and jumping rather than flying to the next branch - hence the descriptor 'squirrel' in its name. It inhabits woodlands and forests countrywide up to 2400m.

There are two heavy-billed, floppy-tailed, all-black cuckoos called anis. The groove-billed ani (garrapatero piquiestrado; Crotophaga sulcirostris) is 30cm long and commonly found in small flocks in hedges, fields, grasslands, marshes, and watersides through out the country up to about 2300m, except in the south Pacific region. Their flight is weak and wobbly and they call 'tee-ho' frequently, giving them their local nickname, tiio. In the south Pacific, they are replaced by the slightly larger but otherwise similar-Iooking smooth-billed ani (garrapatero piquisilo; Crotophaga ani).

Picture 1, Cuckoos, Costa RicaPicture 2, Cuckoos, Costa Rica
Picture 3, Cuckoos, Costa RicaPicture 4, Cuckoos, Costa Rica