Perching Birds

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Coccyzus americanus


10 1/2-12 1/2" (27-32 cm). Jay-sized. A slender, long-tailed bird, brown above and white below, with large white spots on underside of tail and a flash of rufous in wings. Bill slightly curved, with yellow lower mandible. Black-billed Cuckoo similar, but has very little rufous in wings and smaller white spots on tail.


A rapid, harsh, rattling ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-kow-kow-kowp, kowp, kowp, kowp, slowing down at the end.


Moist thickets, willows, overgrown pastures, and orchards.


2-4 pale blue-green eggs in a flimsy saucer of twigs placed in a bush or small sapling.


Breeds from central California, Minnesota, and southern New Brunswick southward. Winters in South America.


This bird's tendency to utter its distinctive call at the approach of a storm has earned it the name "Rain Crow." Both the Yellow-billed and Black-billed cuckoos are fond of hairy caterpillars, and during outbreaks of tent caterpillars are valuable in helping to keep these creatures in check. Usually shy and elusive, these birds are easy to overlook.