Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Yellow-billed Cuckoo family in Lamar Woods

This morning as I birded in Lamar Woods, a riparian woods located behind the Lamar Community College that is awfully degraded, I spotted an adult Yellow-billed Cuckoo and saw it feed an apparent fledgling cuckoo. I wasn't able to get any photos of the adult though I saw it several times.
It was surprising to see that this young fledgling does not have any yellow on it's bill. Though Yellow-billed Cuckoos are named for having a yellowish lower mandible and black upper mandible, it turns out that according to Birds of North America online fledglings have "dark gray upper mandible; lower mandible mostly light gray, but slightly darker at tip." Their bills do not change to black and yellow until they are about 60 days old
The adult cuckoo called a number of times giving a 'coo' call-but much softer than any recordings of coo-calls I have heard. It appeared to be trying to get it's offspring to follow it to another tree. However the fledgling did not follow the parent for quite awhile; however, it stayed mostly partially to fully hidden behind foliage and tree branches making it difficult to get reasonable photos. At one point the adult cuckoo flew maybe 10 feet over my head to a tree close to the fledgling and calling soft coos in what appeared to be an unsuccessful attempt to get the fledgling to come after it--that was a cool experience.
This apparent young fledgling finally flew off with it's parent. I followed and found one perched higher in a tree where I got the photo below--I am sure if this is the same fledgling or a second fledgling. SeEtta