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.
The black, slightly curved bill is diagnostic.
Juvenile birds can look quite comical as you see here:
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.
The Scarborough Bluffs make a perfect habitat for colonies of Bank Swallows and likely have for 1,000’s of years.
Views of the Bluffs and area:
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