Hi Matt and all,
The "kowp, kowp, kowp, kowp..." call as well as the clucking sliding down
the scale and ending with what I would call the "clatter" at the end. Very
like a yellow-billed, except upon cross examination, it did not have the
sharpness and clicking and holowness of the yellow-billeds I remember from
the South and Mid-west.
I must admit that this bird had me fooled, as did the bird-song recordings
and field guides, which seem to have missed this. I just looked through all
my field guides and nary a one says anything about a black-billed doing
anything similar to a yellow-billed. Forbush & May don't mention it.
This lack of textual evidence, combined with the difficulty of seeing these
birds, makes this a very interesting learning experience.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Matthew Medler" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, June 10, 2005 2:27 PM
Subject: [VTBIRD] Cuckoo vocalizations
> 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
> 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