People are going ‘cuckoo’ for a rare bird in Rhode Island


JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Islanders have a new, yet positive, reason to go a little “cuckoo” this year.

Hundreds of people have been flocking to Snake Den State Park in Johnston to get a glimpse of the common cuckoo bird.

Courtesy Angela Munsell: Common Cuckoo Bird

They’re commonly found in Europe, but are considered extremely rare in the United States.

“Yeah, I’m looking for a cuckoo. I’m a little crazy. Birders are all a little crazy,” Larry Goodhew, who flew in Monday just to see the cuckoo bird, said with a laugh. “I have pictures of 670 kinds of birds, so this is why it’s been fun to chase birds.”

Common cuckoos are typically found in Europe and Asia, and are also seen during the winter in Africa. This one seems to have lost its way, possibly in a storm.

“These birds have a magnetic thing they travel with and every once in awhile they go the wrong direction for some reason and they don’t really know why,” Goodhew explained.

Courtesy Jason Major: Common Cuckoo eating a wooly caterpillar in Rhode Island

The juvenile female was frequently spotted feeding on hairy caterpillars, which is a favorite of cuckoos. It’s been spending time in Johnston for more than a week now.

“Things have been so tense in the world with everything going on. We were part of this group looking for this rare bird and it was a wonderful feeling,” Providence resident Ida Schmulowitz said.

If you’re wondering, the call of the common cuckoo is actually the bird that is represented on the “cuckoo clock.”

No one really knows how long the cuckoo bird will be around, but like many bird species, they do head south for the winter.

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