Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bird in the Hand - Bird in the Bush

The ancient proverb says that "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" ... well, maybe not.

A few nights ago, while walking up the trail along the San Gabriel River, we spotted a nice Yellow-billed Cuckoo as it flew into the tree overhead.  We have heard them a number of times before, but this was our first clear view of one ... and we got a recognizable photograph to boot.

This evening, leaving work, I found another Cuckoo on the walkway in front of our office building. With a sinking feeling I assumed that this was the latest victim of the building's "killer windows" which have claimed the lives of a Painted Bunting and Nashville Warbler in the past few weeks.

However, I was pleased to find that this latest victim was only stunned, not dead. As I picked it up to move it to safety, it fluttered its wings weakly and grasped my finger. I let it rest in a flower bed while I watched it and tried to find out what to do if it didn't recover quickly. It occasionally opened its eyes but did not seem to respond much to its surroundings. Finally, after 20 minutes, it started looking more alert. It finally noticed me move and flew up into a nearby tree. Yay!

I guess this isn't uncommon, as Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" site notes that "As long-distance, nocturnal migrants, Yellow-Billed Cuckoos are vulnerable to collisions with tall buildings, cell towers, radio antennas, wind turbines, and other structures" ( This one, however, collided in broad daylight.

Despite the coolness of having a Cuckoo perched on my finger, I can definitely say that a bird in the bush is nicer than any number of birds in the hand.

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