Here's a picture of this wonderful bird:(not my photo. It's from peterspics.net off Google images--thank you, Peter!
They are a handsome, medium-sized bird with a very long tail. They are not to be confused with the European cuckoo which has traits similar to the cowbird, laying its eggs in the nests of other birds and not raising their young.
Our American Black-Billed Cuckoo feeds its young on tent caterpillars--those ugly masses of web and crawling worms that colonize a branch or two or three on favored trees. Cuckoos love tent caterpillars. Out here JOTOLR, we try to push a stick into the tent, itself, and tear it apart. That way the cuckoos can get at the worms more easily. But it is the ONLY predator of these pests. I'm not exactly sure why, but this bird manages to peck its way into the tent and, of course, finds a feast once it gets past the gauze.
So, if you hear a funny kind of croaky sound, coming from the top of a nearby tree, it's probably going to be a Black-Billed Cuckoo. Take a stick and poke those tents, and celebrate the arrival of the Black-Billed Cuckoo. BTW, it is on the "Threatened" list.
Vicki Lane over at Vicki Lane Mysteries is having a drawing for a cookbook, the recipes for which have all been contributed by Mystery Writers (Vicki, of course, is included). The book is called Killer Recipes, and if you sign up, you might win yourself a cookbook FILLED with recipes to die for! It's all for a good cause, too: The American Cancer Society will received all proceeds. Have a look and let me know what you think. Vicki promises to send the winner the book, wherever they are! So our faraway friends are welcome to enter!