Scientific Name: Neomorphus radiolosus
IUCN Red List status: Endangered
Despite its fairly large size and green, irridescent tail feathers, Banded Ground-cuckoo still remains inconspicuous and sightings are rare.
This extremely rare species is found in south-west Colombia and north-west Ecuador, with an estimated population number of 600 – 1,700 individuals based on known records.
Adult Banded Ground-cuckoo have dark plumage above and below the body, featuring mainly black feathers. The wing coverts are chestnut with a purplish-red inner and black outer, while the long black tail boasts a purple-to-green iridescence. The bare blue skin around its brown eyes can expand and contract – a behaviour these birds are thought to use during displays.
Banded Ground-cuckoo forage for arthropods from the ground by scouring foliage, stems and tree-trunks, and often catch prey that has been disturbed by army ants.
Scientific research conducted by UCLA in Ecuador’s Chocó rainforest included a year-long study of one male Banded Ground-cuckoo.
This male led the researchers to a nest attended by two adults, which contributed equally to incubation, brooding and provisioning of a single nestling.
When not busy nesting, the adult roamed a home range of five square kilometres, preferring to reside in undisturbed habitat.
Inhabiting the foothill forests of south-west Colombia and north-west Ecuador, Banded Ground-cuckoo are considered to have a very small and fragmented population that is isolated in smaller subpopulations within this range.
Their presence appears to be mainly linked to continuous primary forest but has also been found in adjacent secondary areas.
A combination of rapid habitat loss and local hunting for food has led to ongoing declines in range and population, resulting in this species being classed as Endangered.
The Chocó region has long been a source of timber, but logging intensified in the 70s and by the late 90s, rapid expansion of oil palm plantations further devastated the land. Intensive agricultural development, cattle farming, expansion of road networks, mining and hunting are also major factors in the destruction of Banded Ground-cuckoo’s home.