Wednesday, May 11, 2016

rain crowing

Yellow-billed cuckoo. Photo by Stephen Ramirez, wiki media

True to form and right on schedule, early this morning from the back porch with rain on the way, I heard my first "rain crow," i.e. yellow-billed cuckoo of the year. 

It seems to always be early May when they return to the woods behind the house to spend the summer. They arrive just when the canopy fills with tent caterpillars and other insects—by July it will be cicadas—all their favorite bill of fare.These are high canopy birds. You rarely see them but their cough-like calls are an essential part of late spring and summer. 

Grandma Mary Jane taught me the name rain crow because their rapid ka ka ka ka ka kow kow kow calls seem to forecast an approaching storm as it did this morning.

If the wood thrush are the flutists in the forest behind me, the cuckoos are the percussionists. 

And, if that weren't enough, late in the afternoon. A pair of male summer tanagers passed by the back porch as well. Singing their little avian hearts out. 

Sigh. Cue Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, "Ode to Joy." 

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