I couldn’t tell what it was struggling thirty yards down the bank, maybe a dorsal fin, sticking up out of the water.

It was a beak.

I ate lunch and he sat on my knee, regaining composure. He closed his eyes and let the sun do its work, drying damp feathers as he rehearsed the guttural sounds of his species. I’ve surely mistaken them for gray treefrogs on hot, muggy, July days like these.

He opened his eyes and gave one final shake, arranging his feathers as I tucked him into the wild plum.


    1. Bird friends said it was a black-billed cuckoo. They tend out to hang out in brushy, riparian areas, so it seems to make sense.

    1. Birding friend called it a black-billed cuckoo. Once it was dry, it climbed up into the trees and appeared to be no worse for wear.

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