Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yellow-billed Cuckoo - Texas Birds

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Texas; 6/23/2011.
On my last morning visiting my sister in Texas, I made one last hike around their property, and I heard a bird that I had heard the two previous days. So three days in a row I heard this bird call which started out as a sort of a knocking then turn into a slow repetitive series reminiscent of a lower gutteral crow. I had no idea what kind of bird this was (thinking perhaps it was some sort of upland game bird or rail), so I tried my best to follow the sound, untill I heard it in a very close proximity, and saw a rather large bird fly into a nearby tree.  While I was getting ready to focus on it, it made the call that I had been hearing for the past 36 hours. It was hidden in a shady section of the tree which didn't make for a very good photo, but it soon flew to another tree in a more sunny open spot and stayed long enough for me to get my picture (Above). As soon as I saw it through my viewfinder,  suspected it was a Cuckoo, but since I have never seen nor heard one before, I wasn't positive. Later on after researching, my suspicions were confirmed as it indeed was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (#320 on my Life List). They are a large bird (a foot long) with a brown head, back and tail, offset with a white throat, breast and belly, and of course, a large slightly hooked yellow bill (thus its name). Although my photos do not show it, their tails have a distinct white and black striping.
A Yellow-billed Cuckoo feeding on an insect, Texas; 6/23/2011.
Yellow-billed Cuckoos are found in much of the U.S. and Mexico, ranging from the southern states from the Atlantic Coast westward to Arizona. They extend their range as far north as South Dakota in the west
spreading east through southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and into the Northeast.

Sunset of the Day
Storm clouds helped create this sunset in the Grand Tetons Nat. Park, WY; 6/15/2006.

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