Visiting from Asia


Common cuckoos

Call me crazy, but I thought this cuckoo story was interesting.

See, we don’t have the kind of cuckoos that say, “Cuckoo! Cuckoo!” So when one showed up in Watsonville last week, well, it caused quite a stir.

Stockton birder David Yee explained. The common cuckoo lives in Asia and migrates certain times of year to the east coast of Russia. Once in a while these and other birds cross over to Alaska, and when it’s time to head south again, some get disoriented and head down the west coast of North America instead of the east coast of Asia.

These birds, Yee says, are “vagrants.”

But that’s a euphemism for this wanderer. The common cuckoo had never been recorded south of Alaska on the West Coast, Yee said.

“That bird is way, way lost,” he said.

Hundreds of people showed up to get a look. Those who didn’t know much about cuckoos, however, might have been disappointed.

Why? It’s the wrong time of year to hear the bird’s distinctive call.

We’ve got plenty of cuckoos that don’t “Cuckoo!” Now, when we’ve finally got a cuckoo that does “Cuckoo!” it won’t play ball.

“This bird made no noise,” Yee said.

“I’ve actually heard them in Southeast Asia,” he said. “They really do sound just like the clock.”


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  • Blog Author

    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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