Mangrove Cuckoo: First Louisiana Record

On yesterday’s New Orleans Christmas Bird Count, Glenn Ousset found a Mangrove Cuckoo in Chalmette. Word spread by cell phone, and I think all the teams abandoned their official area to catch this rarity, before returning to scout their assigned locations for more prosaic birds like Mottled Ducks and White-winged Doves.

Mangrove Cuckoo in Chalmette

I was once told that chasing a cuckoo was a fool’s errand, but this bird was far more cooperative than cuckoos normally are and was well seen by multiple observers over the course of the next few hours, including more than one member of the state records committee. At least three people including myself took recognizable digital photos, and one birder got video. As long as no one reports a missing pet cuckoo in the next week, its status as a new species for Louisiana seems assured.

Mangrove Cuckoo

Suspicion is that this is a member of the Central American/Mexican race, not the Carribean/South Florida race, though this is by no means certain.

The bird was along a canal off Maureen Road in Chalmette. As of an hour or two ago (Sunday, 10:00 .M.), it is still being seen. David Muth’s driving directions are:

From I-10 in New Orleans East, take Paris Road (La. 47) south. Cross the Intracoastal and proceed into Chalmette. At Judge Perez Drive (La. 39), turn left (east) and go about 3.6 miles. You will pass fragrant Murphy Oil, and then you will pass on your right an abandoned shopping center with a Sav-A-Center, and then a large pasture. At the far end of the pasture look for a left turn on Maureen Lane (it is a small black and white hand stenciled sign). Turn left. You will immediately cross the canal–turn left. You will go about one block along the canal on a paved street that turns right. Park at the turn and walk along the grassy but rutted edge of the canal about 100 yards. The spot is marked with a plastic gas can. Canal, grass, then the spoil pile from the canal overgrown with brambles, willows and scrub.

Mangrove Cuckoo

This is the second time I’ve been present for a state-first bird this year. (The first was New York’s Western Gull on a February pelagic out of Freeport.) It’s also the second Louisiana state-first on a CBC this year. (The first was a small flock of White-winged Crossbills seen on the Claiborne Parish Christmas Bird Count in North Louisiana last weekend.)

As far as anyone knew, this is the first ever occurrence of this species in Louisiana. (Sibley does show it as accidental in southeastern Louisiana, though no one knows why.) I’ll post a complete write-up of the count with more pictures later, but this one was too exciting to wait for.

4 Responses to “Mangrove Cuckoo: First Louisiana Record”

  1. John Cowan Says:

    So what’s it like there?

  2. Shoes » Blog Archive » Belinda in Paris. Says:

    […] Mangrove Cuckoo: First Louisiana Record […]

  3. Roselie Overby Says:

    Thanks for the photos and info since I probably won’t make it back down there!

  4. Mokka mit Schlag » #799: Northern Shrike Says:

    […] CBC is coming up on Boxing Day. It[‘s had some great rarities in the past including my life Mangrove Cuckoo. There’s still time yet. It could be worse. I could still be trying to find 10 more rarities […]

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