Tuesday, May 11, 2010
A New Bird for Me
After nearly 24 years in Belize, we can boast that we've seen a majority of the birds listed for the country. Still, there are the persistent few that are shy, rare, evasive or accidental that have so far eluded us. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is just such a bird. It appears on the Belize country list as "transient," meaning it doesn't over-winter here, just passes through. I've leafed through the field guides, wondering what combination of luck and skill is needed to encounter this species. So when it dropped in at our driveway a couple days ago, imagine our surprise.
These photos were taken after removing a screen from the bedroom window and aiming my little pocket camera in the general proximity of the cuckoo. At max digital zoom, the resulting photos are admittedly soft. Still, the field marks are apparent: the trademark yellow bill, the long graduated cuckoo tail with black and white underside pattern, and the rufous on the wing.
Bound for its breeding grounds in North America, this bird is evidently enjoying a little R&R as we've seen it over 4 days now. Other northward bound migrant species that we saw on a daily basis are: Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus), Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius), and an assortment of warblers. A weather front has pushed them onward and they are gone until next autumn.