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My Life’s Birds: #74

March 19, 2008

July 26, 1993 – Christian Co, Mo – Back home in Linden one of our favorite summer activities was to take the canoe and heading up the Finley River. Birds were common, Herons along the banks, Vultures soaring on thermals above the bluffs that define the Missouri Ozarks. It’s hard to bird from a boat, there’s always the possibility that you could turn over and deposit your optics in the bottom of the river. For that reason, you tended not to take things you wanted to stay dry. But these family trips were not birding trips, especially when my sister, who wasn’t as good at being quiet as we would have liked, came along

But when the birding bug hit, my dad and I would take these trips by ourselves. We’d often find many birds, including the definitive sound of high summer in the Ozarks, the grating song of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. They were often called rain crows by the old-timers, who believed that their song was a harbinger of rain. Of course it was, but only if you were prepared to wait awhile. Always easy to hear but never quite so simple to see, we’d find them skulking in the willows and pawpaws around flat rock at the first turn in the river, always betraying their location with that raspy croaking call.

Funny though, that while I’ve seen thousands of Yellow-billed Cuckoos since those first few, I still have never found it’s Black-billed cousin. Unless you count the one that hit my parent’s car, which of course, I unfortunately can’t.

Photo from Wikipedia

  1. Greg permalink
    March 19, 2008 10:06 am

    I have a vague memory of the bird flashing before my eyes as it hit the grill. I wonder if I can count it? 🙂

    Were you there when the Yellow-billed Cuckoos swarmed the tent caterpillars on an August day? That’s the most I’ve seen at one time. The parents must have brought the youngsters in for the smorgasbord.

  2. March 19, 2008 3:49 pm

    I wouldn’t count it, I distinctly remember it though.

    Don’t remember the YBs in the caterpillars, though with all the tents on those walnuts on the north side of the house, they probably had a feast.

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