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June 2005


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Matthew Medler <[log in to unmask]>
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Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 10 Jun 2005 11:27:31 -0700
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     I would like to echo Walter's informative comments about cuckoo vocalizations.  Due to the secretive nature of these birds (and their limited abundance in these parts), I think that many observers, including those with extensive field experience, have problems with these two species.  While I think Yellow-billed Cuckoo is well-known for giving its outburst of "kowp" calls (what Walter calls the clatter-call) as well as its mellow, well-spaced "coo" calls, I don't think that many people realize that Black-billed Cuckoo has a second vocalization in addition to its familiar "cu-cu-cu-cu."  During a recent outing in Ithaca where both species were seen and heard, I did not hear a single "cu-cu-cu-cu" from the multiple Black-billed Cuckoos detected--they were all giving their clatter call.  For a good example of this call (and a comparision with Yellow-billed), I would point people in the direction of Lang Elliott's "Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs."

     Having written all of this, I am curious--Greg and Tom, what vocalization did you hear that you thought sounded like a Yellow-billed?

Good birding,
Matt Medler