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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 like it, though, and will plan to make a real painting of a cuckoo later. I think this one will be a smaller painting, probably around 5 x 7″. I’ll use the photo of Terry’s, above, for a model.

If the rain crow is your favorite bird, and you’d like to have an original painting in Ozark pigments of a reclusive Ozark bird, let me know. When I get started on it, I’ll let you know. At the moment, I have a tractor painting in progress.

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

Madison Woods is an artist and paintmaker from Kingston, Arkansas.
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Author/Artist Info
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In the summer of 2018 I began making watercolor paints from the rocks, clay, and other resources of our land here in the Ozarks. My artwork is made exclusively with these paints. I call them Wild Ozark Paleo Paints, because they’re made in a way very close to the same way paints were made when man first put a hand-print on the wall of a cave. My specialty is painting nature, specifically the nature that surrounds me here in the remote hills of northwest Arkansas.

Click here to join my mailing list.

Madison Woods
@wildozark (Instagram and FB)
[email protected]

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6 August 2020 5:05 am

[…] Madison Woods, Wild […]

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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