Monday, November 5, 2012

Searching for and Photographing The Cuckoos of the United States

While I was down in Texas, one of the birds that I observed was the Greater Roadrunner.  I realize that I have seen all the cuckoo's of the United States, except for one, the Mangrove Cuckoo.  There is a story that goes along with each of my sightings and non-sightings.
My son and I explored the mangroves at Biscayne National Park in Florida looking for the Mangrove Cuckoo without any luck.  Maybe next year?
Greater Roadrunner ( Geococcyx californianus)
Greater Roadrunner
I had observed and photographed the Greater Roadrunner for the first time in Arizona.  The location was Sabino Canyon, which is outside of Tucson, Arizona.  One of the interesting facts about the canyon is it is a location where you can pan for garnets.  They have volunteers at a stream and teach you how to pan.  While I was doing this, a roadrunner appeared across the road and I stopped panning and was able to photograph it.  The next time I saw a roadrunner was at Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico, where one was running around the motel where we were staying.  Finally, while I was down in Texas, I had many more opportunities to photograph the roadrunner.

Greater Roadrunner ( Geococcyx californianus
Greater Roadrunner
Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)
Smooth-billed Ani
A month after I had retired, my son and I drove down and birded and photograph the entire East Coast of Florida.  We were at the end of the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades late in the day, observing and photographing the waiting birds coming into roast.  A blackbird flew by me while I was on the platform, I thought it was a grackle.  A nice lady standing right beside me told me it was a Smooth-billed Ani.  It was A life bird and a rare one for the area, the Smooth-billed Ani was kind enough to stay in the open to allow me to photograph it.





 MSB_2482 Rehoboth MA May 14, 2010 NIKON D300S
Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
 MSB_2452 Rehoboth MA-Edit May 14, 2010 NIKON D300S
Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
A friend of mine, Kathleen, took me to some places in Rehoboth, looking for whatever we could photograph.  A few days later I returned to the area of the dam, where Kathleen had seen a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  Yes, I was lucky and the yellow-billed cuckoo appeared and was eating caterpillars in the tree.  Another life bird.





Groove-billed Ani - Crotophaga sulcirostris,
Grooved-billed Ani
Groove-billed Ani - Crotophaga sulcirostris,
Grooved-billed Ani
For the next member of the cuckoo family, again, I was in Florida, with my friend Ken, photographing around St. Petersburg and Fort De Soto.  While were at Fort De Soto, we were hoping to photograph warblers.  When we checked at the nature center, people told us that they were very few warblers around, but we should go over to the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, which is a city park of St. Petersburg, where a Grooved-billed Ani has been sighted.  We left Fort Desoto and drove over to the preserve, on entering the visitors center, the volunteer behind the desk said.  "Oh you are here to see the Ani".  She drew us a map on where to find it, we walked to the area and met some other people looking for Ani.  In fact, one of the gentlemen had bought a small bag of mealworms for the Ani.  The Ani had gotten very used to people coming to see it and realized that people walking along the path stirred up the leaves and other material on the path and made it easy for it to find insects which it eats.  This was an easy bird to photograph.

 Finally, the Black-billed cuckoo.  I was up at the Parker River national wildlife refuge on plum island in Massachusetts On the tall tower looking at shorebirds, when suddenly a Black-billed Cuckoo flew into a tree beneath the platform and allowed itself to be photographed
Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)
Black-billed cuckoo