The Yellow Billed Cuckoo nests in North America and Canada but it winters in South America and Central America. They are also occasionally seen in Europe. They have the unique ability to see behind them without turning their heads. This is because of their wide-set eyes. At only 9 days old, they are able to leave the nest by climbing and often do so in search of food. The Yellow Billed Cuckoo is able to fly at 22 miles per hour but it prefers to live in thick tangles of underbrush.
The Yellow Billed Cuckoo can often be seen along streams and next to small ponds, as opposed to dense forests. The main diet of this bird is the hairy caterpillar and beetles. It hides in thick brush and limbs until it spots its prey and then it climbs up the tree to the insect’s location. It will also eat frogs and fruits such as berries. In the case of the hairy caterpillar, the bird will rub its victim against a tree branch in order to remove some of the prickly hairs before it swallows its meal.
In the western United States, the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo is becoming rarer due to its loss of its streamside habitat. It builds its nest on branches in evergreen trees or a thorny bush, up to twelve feet off of the ground. The first eggs hatch about two weeks after being laid and both parents share in incubating the eggs. The parents will feed the chicks until they are old enough to climb and hop around their hosting tree or bush. At that point, they begin to feed themselves on insects.
Yellow-Billed Cuckoos have the nickname “Rain Crow” because they can often be heard just before a rain storm. This has led some people to believe that their singing is a warning of impending storms.