Finding a Yellow-billed Cuckoo while birding at Pearsall Park

It’s funny how your view of a place changes as you explore it more in a different way. The first few times I went to Pearsall Park were for recreation and leisure. The park, which …

yellow-billed cuckoo on branch

It’s funny how your view of a place changes as you explore it more in a different way. The first few times I went to Pearsall Park were for recreation and leisure. The park, which opened in 2016, is a 500-acre park with a variety of amenities including walking trails that flank the river.

I decided to go birding there for the first time recently and headed down the trail toward the wooded river area.

On the way to the river, the first group of birds I spotted were Purple Martins. I found them roosting in the stadium lights that were next to the baseball field. They made a very unique bubbling sound which you can hear here @ 15 seconds :

A surprise visitor next to the trail

As I continued down the path, I saw European Starlings, House Finches, and Mourning Doves. As I passed some foliage on the right, some brown movement caught my eye. I turned to look and found what I believed to be a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. I’ve never seen this bird in person, only heard it in a group bird outing before. I was thrilled to get a great photo of it.

The call of the Kingbird

Riding on a high from seeing a new bird I continued on my way to the river and walked along the path next to it. Far off down the path perching on a power line, a Western Kingbird sat and called, unphased as pedestrians strolled by. I walked over directly underneath it and it began to vocalize. I pulled out Merlin to record it (since it saves in WAV format).

Using the experience I gained the day before, I identified the song of a White-eyed Vireo off in the trees. I still haven’t seen this bird with my eyes, so I remain hopeful that I’ll get lucky one day soon.

I practice birding by ear every time I go out. It’s the constant challenge of hearing the birds often enough and not forgetting their songs if too much time has passed. Merlin picked up the song of a Carolina Chickadee and I focused on its song. It had been a while since I heard one so it was a refresher for me.

A bonus evening visit

As I sat on the computer typing this post at 7:30 pm, my partner asked if I wanted to go check out the “park with the river.” With daylight burning fast, I grabbed my camera and we headed to the park.

I was excited to see how the birds would change on my second visit of the day, this time right before nightfall.

We exited the car and headed down the trail towards the river. Our pace was much brisker than my first trip. I noticed the Purple Martins were nowhere to be found.

About 3/4 down the trail we were treated with a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on the powerline.

Another half-mile down the trail I heard the familiar call of the Carolina Wren. I got an opportunity to capture both its call and its song. These two clips both contain the call and the first contains the song:

Here’s a breakdown of what I saw on my visits.

Afternoon Birding

Mourning Dove2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo1
Black Vulture6
Crested Caracara2
Western Kingbird6
White-eyed Vireo1
Carolina Chickadee1
Purple Martin50
Barn Swallow16
Carolina Wren2
European Starling8
Northern Mockingbird5
House SparrowX
House Finch20
Great-tailed Grackle3
Northern Cardinal7

Evening Birding

Great Crested Flycatcher1
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher1
Carolina Wren5
Northern Mockingbird6
House Sparrow10
House FinchX
Northern Cardinal8

Bonus audio clip: I went back to the park at 6 am the following morning and was lucky enough to record and fiml the call of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

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