Sometimes I learn bits and pieces of information that I don't know are related until ages later. Funny how that works.
I first heard about a rain crow from my cousin when we were youngsters. I don't really remember the conversation, but I think we had heard a cooing sound that I thought might have been a mourning dove. She told me it was a rain crow, and she probably told me it meant it was going to rain or thunder. If I remember correctly she claimed to have been told all this by her mother. I do remember being skeptical that she had given me correct information and not just some superstition, so I must have filed all that in the "most likely an old wives' tale" mental file.
Fast forward many years to probably a Sunday afternoon spending time with my husband and listening to bluegrass. The Osborne Brothers were singing, "The Cuckoo Bird," a song that sounded rather silly but in a fun sort of way. (I didn't know until recently that it was based on an English folk song.)
Fast forward more years to a time my son and I were walking with my father on our wooded property one hot summer day and saw a bird we could not identify sitting in a tree in the woods. Later we discussed what we had seen and looked up the identification. I concluded we had mostly likely seen a yellow-billed cuckoo. I also later saw one in my yard briefly once in the sycamore tree.
Just recently I heard a bird that I'm sure I've heard many times in my life. If I had ever wondered what it was, I had probably just assumed it was some sort of woodpecker. But now with good information so readily available on the internet, I determined to find out for certain what I was hearing.
That's when all the streams of info came together.
HERE is a page describing the cuckoo and its sound. In the Southeast, it is indeed called a rain crow. The page on Wikipedia suggests that is because it is often heard calling on a summer afternoon (a time of year when afternoon thundershowers are likely).
It's a bird that is heard more often than seen--a good reason to learn to identify it by sound.
So now I know what a rain crow is.