Black-billed Cuckoo at the Scarborough Bluffs: June 2020

Every time I hear the unmistakable coo-coo…coo-coo of a Black-billed Cuckoo, I make every possible effort to spot this elusive bird.

The North American cuckoo is not the same bird as the European cuckoo. The two note call of that bird was a symbol of infidelity in Shakespeare:

The cuckoo then on every tree
Mocks married men; for thus sings he, “Cuckoo”;
Cuckoo, cuckoo” – O word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear (Love’s Labour’s Lost)

Beethoven has the clarinet imitate it in his Pastoral Symphony.

Our cuckoo is uncommon and local in woods and feeds mainly on caterpillars. I was fortunate to find one in the open at the eastern edge of the Scarborough Bluffs and captured it in one photographic pose only as it flew away as I approached.

Black-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo

The black, slightly curved bill is diagnostic.

Black-billed Cuckoo

Juvenile birds can look quite comical as you see here:

American Robin (juvenile)
American Robin (juvenile)
American Robin (juvenile)
American Robin (juvenile)

Other birds:

American Goldfinch (female)
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird (male) (midges in the background)
Red-winged Blackbird (male)

I always tell groups that Cormorants are completely silent. On this day, however, I was thrilled to hear the deafening whirr of wings as repeated flocks of hundreds passed close by while I walked on the rocky beach.

Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants

The Scarborough Bluffs make a perfect habitat for colonies of Bank Swallows and likely have for 1,000’s of years.

Bank Swallow
Bank Swallow
Bank Swallow
Bank Swallow
Bank Swallow
Bank Swallow

Views of the Bluffs and area:

Red Squirrel

Some botany:

Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
Path Rush
Yellow Hawkweed (Hieracium caespitosum)
Yellow Hawkweed (Hieracium caespitosum)
Yellow Hawkweed (Hieracium caespitosum)
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Joe-pye-weed (Eutrochium maculatum)
Philadelphia Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)
Hawthorn (Crataegus)
Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)
Morrow Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)
Highbush-cranberry (Viburnum opulus)
Soapberry (Shepherdia canadensis)
Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)
Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)
European Birch (Betula pendula)
Algae
Scouring Rush
Shadbush (Amelachier sanguinea)
Shadbush (Amelachier sanguinea)
Shadbush (Amelachier sanguinea)

NATURE POETRY

Men are April when they woo, December when they wed. Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives. – Shakespeare

Miles Hearn

2 thoughts on “Black-billed Cuckoo at the Scarborough Bluffs: June 2020

  1. Lisa Volkov

    Again, this dearly beloved (but far from dead!) place. And such terrific pictures! Thank you so much, Miles!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.