Monday, June 27, 2011


This morning I was treated to a fantastic red morning sunrise. The morning sky was hazy, with a very slight bit of fog also added to the mix. Skies like this usually presage some nasty weather, which is in the forecast for tomorrow, though not for today. Last night’s sunset was similarly reddish, but I wasn’t out in the open with a camera for that.

This morning I saw the sky begin to tinge with red just as Dog and I began our morning walk, so I grabbed the camera as I was leaving the cabin. Poor Dog anticipated an unexpected morning car ride, as that’s where the camera was. He was sorely disappointed in that regard.

On Sunday morning, I was out doing some repair work to my rutted dirt lane. Roundtop has graded the lane several times already this year but then some torrential downpour comes along, making all their work go for naught. Again. So I was out with my rake, working on some of the ruts, when I heard a distant call of a bird I haven’t heard much of this year—a yellow-billed cuckoo.

To my admittedly wonky ears, the sound the bird makes doesn’t even approach a cu-koo sound. Perhaps if the bird was closer, which it rarely is, the cackle it makes before the single longer note would resemble a cu-koo. At a distance, the only sound I hear is more like “koooooo.” Even that’s something of a stretch.

Cuckoos are uncommon here, and sightings are even rarer than their call. They are skulkers, preferring the shelter of trees and bushes to sitting in the open. And their markings resemble a mourning dove, which are a dime a dozen. So unless you see the bird fly or set binos to every mourning dove, it can easily be overlooked.

A couple of years ago, a cuckoo spent the summer wandering all around Roundtop, both close and far, kooing all day long. I got the feeling it was searching, without success, for a mate, some female cuckoo to answer its call. I would hear it close by, then hear it move further away, circle behind me and kooo some more. That lasted most of the summer.

Yesterday’s distant call was the first time I heard the call this year. I think the bird was somewhere over on the back side of the mountain. I might not even have noted it except that after the episode of a few years ago, when a bird kooo-ed constantly, my ears are primed to the sound. I hope this time around, the bird finds a mate and raises a batch of little cuckoos. The idea of hearing a host of their odd little calls coming from all over the mountain is something I’d like to experience, even though it’s unlikely I ever will.


Scott said...

Beautiful sunrise images; thanks for sharing. Yellow-billed Cuckoos are here as well, and I heard one just outside my back door last Thursday morning, but I hardly ever see them.

Cathy said...

That first one is just prefect.

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: Thanks! It pays to take the camera with you at all times, that's for sure!

Carolyn H said...

Scott: Thanks! I've only seen cuckoos 2-3 times. They just don't want to come out and be seen!

Cicero Sings said...

That first pic is lovely.

I spent a few months in Africa and the cuckoos said: coo coo coo for coco puffs. I couldn't believe that their call would really sound like that.

Carolyn H said...

Cicero: I heard the cuckoos in Africa, too (Tanzania) and the black-billed cuckoo I've heard in the Adirondacks makes the cu-koo sound too. But these yellow-billed cuckoos, well, they look like a cuckoo but their voice doesn't really work for me.

Granny Sue said...

That first photo is a stunner, Carolyn.