Wednesday, October 3, 2007


A surprise was waiting for me outside as I walked up the sidewalk to the house.
There in the fallen leaves, fluttering and tipping awkwardly sideways, was a bird. Graceful long lines, slender brown form--unable to right itself, unable to fly. Knocked off her feet by something she didn't see--perhaps another window strike.

I'd never seen her before, and it startled me to have had two such close encounters with such special birds in this short time. Two weeks ago, the Wood Thrush, considered of high conservation concern because of forest fragmentation, and now a juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo, a high-priority species for conservation in the Midwest. Unusual birds to see, for me at least, and leaving me almost speechless to hold each in my hand.
Such a privilege to offer them safety--just for as long as they needed to catch their breath.
Who knows how long it may be before I see them again.

Please browse the comments
for discussion identifying this bird.

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mon@rch said...

Wonderful bird for sure and so glad you had a chance to see it up close! But, seeing it on its own like that is a good sign for the bird. Many times they just need a few hours to get over with bumping their head. so glad I come over to your site to see this guy!

Mary said...

Hi Nina,

A window strike leaves them "silly" for a while. You had a very special time... I so love this post. I'm glad its prognosis is good and it looked lovely on your hand. Ahhhh. I held a Mockingbird once. Heaven.

Are you feeling good? Getting around a bit more?


nina said...

Yes, doing better, in fact, been given my walking orders! Yippee!!!!!

cestoady said...

How lucky can you be ??? First you held a Wood Thrush, now a Black Billed Cuckoo --- only an Ivory Billed Woodpecker next can top that . They have worked their magic -- and now you are back on your feet again, Yippee indeed !!!!

LauraHinNJ said...

Glad for you both!

KatDoc said...

Wow, a Black-billed Cuckoo! What a specieal bird. I only heard my first-ever Black-billed this spring in West Virginia, and sawy my first this fall at Magee Marsh, but very high up in a treetop. How wonderful to be able to observe one "up close and personal!"


PS: Glad you're doing better. When is the next CNC hike?

nina said...

I'm almost hike-ready now! (just have to find a way to squeeze everything I've been unable to accomplish into the few weekends or days off before the snow flies)

dguzman said...

Wow, amazing! You've got quite a yard, attracting these birds. Neat!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Nina,
I'm glad you were able to help the cuckoo towards recovery. I hope this bird will continue on its way with no lingering ill-effects.

Great to hear that your convalescence has been a success also!

Julie Zickefoose said...

Eee! Eee! Eee!

a very belated Science Chimp attack...this looks to me like a juvenile yellow-billed cuckoo, as evidenced by the rufous in the wing, not found in a black-billed.
Still, such a wonderful birdie. I love your blog!

nina said...

These juveniles confound me! Only after the bird was long gone, did I realize from looking at my field guides, that a tail shot would have been soooooo helpful.
Try as I might, I could not find anything that described a juvenile's bill coloring.
Guess I focused (literally) on the wrong end!

Julie Zickefoose said...

One of the tough things about juvenile birds is that bill, eye, leg and facial skin color--the so called soft parts--is mutable, and tends to change as the bird ages. So it's always safer to go for something in the plumage, such as the unequivocal rufous wing, than to go on bill color, which tends to be "true" only when the bird reaches adulthood. Black-billed cuckoos have cool umbers in their feathers, and never show warm rusty tones, whatever might be going on with their tail spots.
Nina, this is a truly exceptional blog and your photographic and observational skills are rare. Love it! Isn't it fun???