Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rain crow

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.  


  1. I am still working on sounds. I did not know about the sounds page. I haven't heard that call before. But the story is interesting. I have never heard of the Rain Crow.

    I like the story, I will be listening for the sound.
    Interesting post!

  2. I've heard of rain crows too but I've never seen one. I wish I had written down the things my grea grandmother told me.

    1. Sometimes I think about the questions I would loved to have asked my grandparents or great grandparents, and I wonder how much information is not passed down to the next generation.
      The "Foxfire" series of books was based on preserving the wisdom and lore of the older generations, and I thought that was a great idea.