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Abundance and occupancy of the western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) in Sonora, Mexico

Publication: Canadian Journal of Zoology
18 May 2023


Unveiling factors that determine abundance and distribution of endangered wildlife species has important implications for their conservation across international boundaries. For instance, the Western Distinct Population (as defined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) of the yellow-billed cuckoo Coccyzus americanus (Linnaeus, 1758) has disappeared in most of the species’ range across western United States and southwestern Canada but little is known about the conservation status at the southern edge of its breeding distribution in Mexico. To fill this information gap, we estimated abundance and occupancy rates of yellow-billed cuckoos using a standard broadcast call survey protocol. We used Bayesian spatial count models to estimate cuckoo population density at survey sites. We used Bayesian hierarchical models to estimate the effects of geography, climate, and vegetation on occupancy rates while accounting for imperfect detection. Mean cuckoo count per transect for all sites was = 9.00 ± 0.45 cuckoos. Overall cuckoo density was = 13.18 cuckoos/km2 (SD( ) = 5.61 cuckoos/km2). Overall cuckoo occupancy in Sonora was = 0.538 (95% credible interval (ψ) = 0.488–0.600), but showed strong geographic variation. Relatively high occupancy levels suggest yellow-billed cuckoo populations in Sonora may be robust, but they are largely reliant on declining high-tree cover.

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Information & Authors


Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Zoology
Canadian Journal of Zoology
Volume 101Number 8August 2023
Pages: 603 - 613


Received: 4 July 2022
Accepted: 10 January 2023
Accepted manuscript online: 20 April 2023
Version of record online: 18 May 2023

Data Availability Statement

The authors will locate the primary research data in the Dryad repository ( upon the acceptance of the manuscript in the Canadian Journal of Zoology.


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Key Words

  1. Coccyzus americanus
  2. Mexico
  3. occupancy
  4. population density
  5. Sonora
  6. yellow-billed cuckoo



Cuerpo Académico de Recusos Naturales, Universidad Estatal de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
Author Contributions: Formal analysis, Investigation, Supervision, and Writing – original draft.
Edwin Juárez
Terrestrial Wildlife Branch, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ, USA
Author Contributions: Funding acquisition, Methodology, Resources, and Writing – review & editing.
Eduardo Sánchez Murrieta
Universidad Estatal de Sonora, Unidad Académica Hermosillo, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
Author Contributions: Data curation, Investigation, Supervision, and Writing – review & editing.
E. Leonel Perales-Hoeffer
Universidad Estatal de Sonora, Unidad Académica Hermosillo, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
Author Contributions: Data curation, Methodology, Supervision, and Writing – review & editing.
Carmen I. Ortega Rosas
Cuerpo Académico de Recusos Naturales, Universidad Estatal de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
Author Contributions: Investigation, Methodology, and Writing – review & editing.

Author Contributions

Data curation: ES, ELP
Formal analysis: AM
Funding acquisition: EJ
Investigation: AM, ES, CIO
Methodology: EJ, ELP, CIO
Resources: EJ
Supervision: AM, ES, ELP
Writing – original draft: AM
Writing – review & editing: EJ, ES, ELP, CIO

Competing Interests

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

Funding Information

This project was funded by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (through Southern Wings) and Universidad Estatal de Sonora.

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