Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cuckoo for Cicadas!

 Cicada exuvia...pretty, eh?

Around here the brood V periodical cicadas are coming out of the ground after 17 years of feeding on fluids of tree roots. Sounds like a great way to spend a few years...that would explain why when they finally make it out to fresh air they're so noisy! TIME TO PARTY!!! Just a few weeks or more to find a wife, make some babies and become bird food...

Walking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park the past week I found the sounds these crazy critters made to be deafening. There must be tens of thousands of the males covering all of the trees(and trying to land on me as well!) That many rowdy Romeos gathered  together to compete for the love of their bug eyed Juliets gets a little out of control. 

 A handsome lady killer...or not...

There was hardly a spot to walk without either stepping on one of crunchy creatures or getting smacked in the face by one. No barefoot hiking today. Normally I don't get too upset with insects, but, JEEZ! When they hit, they tend to stick to you and start to crawl to your highest point. No thank you Mr. Cicada, buzz off...

 The ground is covered with the exits of cicada abodes...and the shells of what they once were...

 A yellow-billed Cuckoo high over head...my camera is heavy.

Another song I've been hearing a lot lately is the call of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. I don't know a lot of calls but, this one is very unique! These are usually tree top and secretive birds that I've rarely seen. This spring there seems to be quite a few more than normal...and they like cicadas...not in a friendly "let's be buddies" kind of way though. More in, "my don't you look delicious" way.

While I was listening to them calling in the trees and chasing them without any good shots, I saw this one fly over the parking lot I was standing in. I was speaking with a newer birder, discussing their calls and all of the birds to be seen in our area. This guy landed right above us! My only way to get a shot was to hold my silly heavy camera, lens and monopod over my head. Now you now I've been blessed with sticks for arms, so that was not an easy task!

Moments later, a second Cuckoo flew in, a female! And we all know what happens in the spring when a cuckoo gets cuckoo! Yep, out in full sight(almost) with children around! My goodness...no morals in Cuckooland. Oh well, when nature calls...

 Soon we will have more Yellow-Billed Cuckoos...
 
...and a few less cicadas...and little a peace and quiet in the forest...until 2033 when it starts all over again!