Summer Tanager and Yellow-billed Cuckoo

On a warm, breezy morning clouds blew across the sun, changing the light in a constant flicker from sunny and bright, to somber gray, and back to sunny again. In the woods on the edge of our back yard, a Summer Tanager sang a strong, clear, lilting song, and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo called a percussive string of unmistakable notes from high in the treetops – ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-cow-cow-cow-cawwp, cawwp, cawwp. For both birds, today was the first time this season I had heard them – I have not yet seen either one, but it’s always good to know when they’re back. 

A Scarlet Tanager has continued to sing in the woods not far away, since I first heard it exactly a week ago, and early in the evening yesterday I listened to the low, electric chik-brrr calls of two Scarlet Tanagers as they moved through the trees. I haven’t yet seen them either, though they’ve come pretty close now and then. They manage to stay well hidden among the new green leaves of the oaks. But just listening to their calls is always a special pleasure, as they, along with the songs and calls of other returning summer birds, bring the woods steadily back to more and more vibrant life.

Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Red-eyed Vireo also sang in trees around the back yard today, and I’ve still heard the rapid songs of a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Eastern Bluebirds and an Eastern Phoebe hunted from perches, and three baby Carolina Wrens begged for food in wispy voices, following their parents through the grass, while the parents intently searched for food and fed them. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird – a brilliant iridescent male – made several trips to the feeder.

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