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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 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):

If the rain crow is your favorite bird, and you’d like to have this varnished (no glass needed), framed, original 4 x 6″ painting in Ozark pigments of a reclusive Ozark bird, let me know. When I get it ready to ship, I’ll let you know. Prints are also available (5 x 7″). If you look for them in the shop and don’t see them, I may not have them listed yet. You can just email me and I’ll send you an invoice, or check back later.

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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Author/Artist Info
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Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints, and her artwork features exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.

Her online portfolio is at www.MadisonWoods.art.

Click here to join her mailing list.

Photo of Madison Woods, artist and Paleo Paint maker, and her social media contact information.
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Eromonsele Emmanuel
4 August 2020 8:20 pm

I like how you’re expressing your love for things through art. Great job!

Nancy Hartney
30 July 2020 3:32 pm

Never heard of a rain cuckoo — lovely looking little bird. Thanks for the post. Like your drawing of the him also.

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