Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Common Cuckoo in Barbados

The first Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) recorded in Barbados and the Western Hemisphere was shot on November 5th, 1958 at the Graeme Hall Swamp.  The second Common Cuckoo was recorded 56 years and 13 days later on November 18th, 2014 in the parish of St. Lucy.  It was first seen by Dr. John Webster and identification was made by a visiting birder and, I am happy to say a follower of this blog, Steve Bright on November 23rd.  He was also the first person to take a somewhat useable photograph of the bird with his cell phone and a scope, but our local expert needed a good photo of the rump to separate it from the African Cuckoo (Cuculus gularis).   
We got this photograph, finally, on 21st which firmly established the Identification.
The Common Cuckoo formerly known as the European Cuckoo is a medium sized bird, 13-14 inches in length.  It has a long tail, a yellow eye-ring and is barred, black and white, on its chest.  The upperparts of the males are grey and the underparts whitish.  Their bills are pointed and black in color, while their feet are yellow.  Females are of a brownish morph coloring.
Common Cuckoos breed throughout Europe, Africa and Asia and feed on caterpillars and insects.  It is known mostly for the call made by the male which has been adopted by cuckoo clocks around the world.
So far, as we near the end of Rare Bird Month, the Common Cuckoo heads the list for the most exciting bird seen. I wonder what else will turn up.