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Favorite Sounds | The Call of the Cuckoo | a.k.a. Rain Crow

For my World Watercolor Month journal entry on the 26 of July, the word prompt was ‘Favorite Sound’. Well, that’s about as hard for me to choose as my favorite color. But right now, during the sultry days of late summer, I guess my favorite sound to hear is the call of the cuckoo, also known as a rain crow.

The yellow-billed cuckoo has an odd way of bringing new birds into the world. Sometimes they lay their eggs in another bird’s nest and let that bird raise their chicks. Sometimes they even toss out the eggs of the other bird to make sure their own chick gets all the attention from the surrogate mother. Questionable motherhood tactics aside, it’s a bird I find intriguing.

Getting a Look at a Rain Crow

It’s also a bird I have never gotten a good in-person look at. I hear it, and get glimpses of it flitting from one tree to another, but have never seen the whole bird long enough to say I’ve really ‘seen’ it. Terry Stanfill, a photographer from northwest Arkansas, has a good photo of one, though.

Yellow-billed cuckoo, a.k.a. 'rain crow'. Photograph by Terry Stanfill.
Photo copyright Terry Stanfill

The Call of the Cuckoo

I managed to record the call of the cuckoo the other morning. This is only one of the sounds they make. The other one, a tropical, staccato reverb sort of sound, always happens suddenly and unexpectedly. Always when I’m not ready to record. This one is a sound this bird makes every morning at about the same time. So it was easy to record.

Here’s another recording with better audio: https://www.youtube.com/8xHn9QAgvFk

Here’s a page with recordings of all the sounds this bird makes.

Painting a Recluse

This is just a quick sketch. I wasn’t trying to make it ‘good’, just trying to capture a look, feel, and idea. I painted a better one later, using a different reference.

A Cuckoo Painting

Here’s the finished painting, but I used a different photo by the same photographer (with his permission):

And, on a final note, I’ll leave you with my favorite song, which ALSO has to do with the cuckoo!

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6 thoughts on “Favorite Sounds | The Call of the Cuckoo | a.k.a. Rain Crow”

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    1. Thank you! I love doing it, and being able to incorporate the actual elements of nature itself through the pigments I’m using is very satisfying.

    1. Hi Nancy! My dad always called them ‘rain crows’, and I’d never seen one at all until we moved up here. Hubs calls them yellow-billed cuckoos, and so I’ve found out both are commonly used names for the same bird. They’re pretty common, but very reclusive, and have a really interesting voice. Have you heard them before? Here’s a page with the other sound they make, including the one like my recording: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Yellow-billed_Cuckoo/sounds

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