Black-billed Cuckoo at Wright Park, Middlebury - Photos by Ron Payne

An unusual song stopped me in my tracks during a recent walk at Wright Park in Middlebury. Turning towards the sound I saw a bird fly up into a Sumac and perch there. Looking at it through my binoculars I saw brown uppers, white under parts, a long tail a curved bill and a red eye ring; it was a Black-billed Cuckoo. It stayed on that perch for several minutes then flew towards and past me into another much closer stand of Sumac. When it moved this time I could see another Cuckoo following closely behind it. The first bird chose an exposed perch while the second disappeared into cover. I was able to take a few pictures of the first bird before it flew up higher into the sumac and stated feeding from a Tent Caterpillar tent, the Cuckoo’s preferred food. While it was feeding, the second Cuckoo came into view and looking at it closely, I could see that it lacked the red eye ring and dark spots on its tail indicating that it was a Juvenile. I was able to take a quick picture of it as well before they both went deeper into the hedgerow and out of sight.

– Ron Payne