Photo by Danilo Rodríguez Jr.
The Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo is a beautiful but infrequently encountered bird, and one of the most sought-after species of the Neotropics. Like other ant-followers, it can be spotted around moving colonies of army ants, as they prey on the insects, arachnids, and small vertebrates like lizards and frogs that they disturb as they swarm across the jungle floor. An interesting fact is that ground-cuckoos of the genus Neomorphus produce a sound by clacking their beaks, which is similar to that produced by peccaries (wild pigs) when they feel threatened. Ground-cuckoos may occasionally be spotted near peccaries, so it has been proposed that they both benefit from alerting each other to danger by making similar sounds!!
Dr. Kevin Zimmer (renowned international birding tour leader and researcher) wrote for the magazine Neotropical Birding, “In recent years, perhaps the most reliable place for seeing Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo has been the foothill forest above El Valle de Antón, Coclé Province, Panama, particularly near the grounds of the Canopy Lodge,” after he was able to watch this bird for about 45 minutes around a swarm of army ants with our Canopy Family guides.