I’m a little slow on getting this Bird of the Month out, mainly, because I’ve been on the hunt.

In the last BOTM, I talked about one of my “Nemesis Birds”, the Summer Tanager. I’ve actually seen a few Summer Tanagers while on the hunt for an even greater nemesis bird. I’ve made quite a few treks trying to see this nemesis, but failed to see one. A nemesis indeed…

This month’s bird is the elusive (for me anyway) Black-billed Cuckoo.

The Black-billed Cuckoo is an interesting bird. It’s a relatively large bird, but even with its size (about 12 inches long) because of their secretive nature, they are heard far more often than they’re seen.

Observation is made even more difficult by the fact that if one is detected by sound, when it is approached, it can remain motionless for very long periods of time. In my opinion, they are easily one of Indiana’s most elusive birds. While I didn’t see one in my hunt over the last month or so, I was able to detect a few by their distinct call. Check out this YouTube video to see and hear this bird:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Z571vI3mw&NR=1

Growing up on a farm down south I remember my grandfather and others referring to this bird as the “Rain Crow”. They do indeed seem to vocalize more prior to it raining.

Another cool fact about this cuckoo is that it only needs 14-16 days from the initial laying of eggs to when the young to leave the nest. That is an amazing feat to me!

I can’t take credit by saying it was my keen birding skills that allowed me to see a Black-billed Cuckoo, the last time I actually saw one. My reason for catching sight of that bird was more Providence than anything else. I was just looking in the right tree, at the right moment, and there it was peering at me. There was very little personal skill in my sighting…I must sadly confess. (I need to study this common, yet secretive bird more to increase my chances of a deliberate sighting, and rely less on hunting for it by sheer determination and volume.)

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