As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday 18 September 2017

Wild Ideas: A mysterious bird calls in the night

For years I’ve heard this strange, haunting animal sound at night in the forest surrounding my house. I was pretty sure it was a bird, but tracking down the species from its sound is much harder than flipping through the illustrations in a field guide. After listening to this sound more carefully all summer, I finally decided to take a shot at solving the mystery.

I thought about what birds are busy at night hunting for food, mating or both. The knocking and hollow, loud “kowp” sound I was hearing didn’t belong to any of our native owls. Nor did it sound like a member of the goatsucker family, which includes whip-poor-wills and nighthawks. So what was left?

When I don’t know where to start with identifying a bird, I often do what I did in this occasion — open one of my bird apps and scroll through the taxonomic orders, hoping a species name will click. In this case, I started with my Sibley Birds app. As I scrolled through the orders, I came to Cuculiformes, the cuckoos, roadrunners and anis.

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