Is it a squirrel? Is it a cuckoo?

First, the facts. The squirrel cuckoo or ‘kip cho’ in Mayan or ‘cuco ardilla’ in Spanish is a largish bird measuring up to 50cm in length, has reddish plumage on the upper parts and grey on the lower, and is characterised by it’s long tail with white markings.

While admiring the massive crocodiles (from a very safe distance of course!) found at Lake Cobá, I heard an unusual bird song coming from the nearby jungle. Not that an unusual bird song is out of the ordinary, as the song of nearly all the birds in the Yucatán are alien to me. So I decided to turn my back on the crocodile to sneak to a hole in the stone wall on the edge of the jungle with the aim to find the source of the sound.

I spotted the singing bird with a striking long tail on some rocks in the undergrowth very quickly. Unfortunately, it was shy and hiding just too far away from me within the jungle to get anything other than a heavily cropped ‘evidence’ or ‘identification’ shot (below, middle). While listening to the bird’s song and hoping that it would come closer, I noticed a slight movement in my peripheral vision.

With a quick refocus, I spotted it’s mate on a branch close by. Luckily I got a brief but very welcome opportunity to take a couple of shots (bottom left and top) of this cuckoo hopping from one branch to another, before it flew to a branch close to it’s mate (below right) before the pair disappeared out of sight, deeper into the jungle.

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