Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

A slow gray dawn began the day, with rainwater dripping from the trees from showers overnight, and a burst of birdsong that reached a peak about 6:15 – 6:45, led by the lisping songs of a Northern Parula and a Phoebe, both in the trees right outside my bedroom window. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Great-crested Flycatcher, Chipping Sparrow, Red-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Cardinal, Chickadee, Bluebird, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker . . . . and then a song I’m not so sure of, but think it may have been a Palm Warbler, a string of notes with a slightly ringing quality, but not loud. It drifted away, and I’ll never know for sure.

It’s the laziest way to go birding – and one of my favorite ways at this time of year when so many birds are singing, with new arrivals almost every day – just lying in bed with the windows open, listening as the different singers come and go. Getting up and being outside early is much better, I admit, but it kind of depends on your mood.

By 7:30 I was outside, with sunlight breaking through the clouds, a Red-eyed Vireo traveling through the leaves of the water oaks overhead, a Yellow-throated Vireo singing down the street, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager and Louisiana Waterthrush songs from somewhere deeper in the woods, along with the calls of an Acadian Flycatcher, the twitter of Chimney Swifts passing over, and the weesa-weesa-weesa of a Black and White Warbler in the oaks on the edge of the yard.

Then a loud, rising and falling ca-ca-ca-ca-cawwp-cawwp-cawwp from the woods across the road – a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the first time I’ve heard one this season.


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