Cuckoo for Cuckoos

I have seen a lot of cuckoos lately (and not just of the human variety!) Early last month in Ohio during Biggest Week a Black-billed Cuckoo made a shockingly visible appearance along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh, joining a terrific quantity of warblers right overhead for a moment, before winging off to a hidden perch where (as is more typical) it remained for hours, occasionally vocalizing just to remind folks that it was there, but of course still invisible.

Then there was the Greater Roadrunner that I saw at the Albuquerque International Sunport on May 30th (there’s a comic-version of that story HERE).

Back home in Pittsburgh, PA, I went to Duck Hollow for the first time in weeks, and I just had this funny feeling that I would see another cuckoo…!


cuckoo june 2018_smaller
6-1-2018 – Duck Hollow, Pittsburgh, PA – Sally Ingraham


While I was traveling throughout May, the woods down along the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, PA, turned into a veritable jungle. So green and tangled and full of birds that are buried in too much foliage to really see them…! On the evening of the first day in June the trail from Duck Hollow, which follows the river¬†beneath the Homestead Greys Bridge and runs down almost to Hazelwood, was a tunnel, full of purple shadows and puddles of dimming sunlight.

I had this feeling, like I said, that I would find a Yellow-billed Cuckoo down there that night, and incredibly, not only did I find one but I got great looks at it. It flew from one side of the “canopy” along the trail to the other, and then sat in a nice window of tree branches for quite awhile. In fact, I wandered off in search of an Orchard Oriole before the cuckoo moved, although it was gone when I looked back down the trail for it.

With these 3 species under my belt for the year, I now feel compelled to see MORE cuckoos – however, the remaining options are all scarce. I’ll have to trek to certain parts of FL with some serious intent to find a Mangrove Cuckoo, and to Alaska (if I can get there right now!) to probably NOT find a Common Cuckoo. More possible is the Groove-billed Ani (yes, it’s cuckoo!), which I’ve seen before in TX and which I just might be able to find when I am there this year in November… And if I find that, why shouldn’t I be able to find the even rarer Smooth-billed Ani?!

In the end I may have to content myself with the little wooden cuckoo which pops out of the clock every 15 minutes. That, and my local lovely Yellow-billed friend.


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