Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Swainson’s Thrush

Late on a warm, sunny, beautiful fall morning – blue sky covered loosely with a quilt of soft white clouds – a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was quietly feeding in the leafy shadows of one of many trees in a dense thicket of privet, vines, and other shrubs and weeds. I had stopped to check out the area because it’s often a good spot for birds. A large dogwood tree on the edge of the thicket is full of red berries. The Cuckoo was further back among the leaves of an elm, and at first I could only see a part of its distinctive velvet-brown head and back, and creamy white throat. But as I watched, it gradually moved enough into the open to see a full view, even the subtle, pale-rufous color in the folded wings, the down-curved bill, yellow on the lower part, and the long tail, with big, dramatic white spots on the dark under side.

On the other side of the thicket, in shrubs near the ground, a Swainson’s Thrush emerged just long enough to see its olive-brown back and head, buffy face, pale eye-ring and spotted chest.

These two were the only migrant birds I found this morning, but other birds seemed much more active than in a while, so that the neighborhood felt more lively, with an energy in the air. A Pine Warbler sang.

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