Coccyzus americanus, the yellow-billed cuckoo
  • Latin name: Coccyzus americanus
  • Nicknames: storm crow or rain crow (they often call before rain)
  • Favorite food: caterpillars, especially tent caterpillars (webworms…?)
  • Habitat: deciduous trees

There aren’t too many birds whose calls says “jungle” like the yellow-billed cuckoo.  To hear what I mean, go to The Cornell Lab’s website and click on the 2nd “Calls” link recorded by Jeff Bolsinger in Texas on May 20, 1994.  Check out their Overview tab, too, which has some “Cool Facts” about this cuckoo. 

One day when I was on a morning walk, I startled a bird from a nearby bush.  It was a large bird for the ones I’d been seeing recently–I really thought it was the resident brown thrasher, but I noticed that it had black and white on its tail.  As I approached, it flew again to the front yard and perched in the tallow tree.  It reminded me of a penguin the way it leaned over its feet and stuck its head out a bit.  (Cute!) We watched each other for a minute, then when I went to get the camera, it flew away.  I quickly recognized it from the Merlin app and was so excited to know that this fine bird was visiting us.  When I listened to its calls on the app, I recognized it instantly.  I have always heard that jungle-like call in Louisiana but had never been able to put a face to it.  Now when I hear that distinctive tok-tok-tok-tok, I know who’s perched high up in a tree, looking like a penguin and singing for the rain.