Camera trap photo of rufous-vented ground cuckoo (circled) and a collared peccary. Photo courtesy of Renzo Piana.
Although a large, attractive bird found across Latin America, scientists know almost nothing about the rufous-vented ground cuckoo (Neomorphus geoffroyi). Renzo Piana, the director of science and research with the Amazon Conservation Association, described the bird as “rare,” “cryptic,” “mainly solitary,” and “mostly silent”—much of which explains why so little is known about it. But camera traps are helping to reveal more about this, and thousands of other little known species.
Piana and colleagues recently documented never-before-seen behavior of the rufous-vented ground cuckoo on camera trap in the Peruvian Amazon. A series of photos shows the cuckoo boldly following a group of collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu).
“It is suspected that the cuckoo benefit by increasing their chances of finding food,” explained Piana, who added that the cuckoo probably scavenge peccary leftovers as well as insects on the run from peccary herds that can reach as many as 50 individuals.
Other scientists have documented rufous-vented ground cuckoos following army ants, various primates, and even white-lipped peccaries.
The rufous-vented ground cuckoo is currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
“It is suspected that the species relies on primary forest,” said Piana. “Major threats are habitat loss due destruction of primary forest for agriculture and cattle ranching, and road construction that leads to forest fragmentation.”
Illustration of the rufous-vented ground cuckoo (Neomorphus geoffroyi). Illustration by: Joseph Smit.
Series of camera trap photos showing relationship between rufous-vented ground cuckoo and collared peccaries. Photo courtesy of Renzo Piana.