Every Thursday and Sunday I monitor a route for rare, a local land trust and research facility. Miriam always accompanies me on the Sunday route and before actually embarking on our survey we always check in with the guys who are operating a banding station. Last week we arrived just as they had banded a Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus.
This species is unusual in that it feeds readily on tent caterpillars, a prey which most other species avoid. Periodically, tent caterpillars which are moderately sized species in the genus Melacosoma and in the moth family Lasiocampidae, are irruptive and this year appears to be one of those times.
Subsequently, Miriam and I heard a Black-billed Cuckoo during our walk and three others had been banded last time I checked. So, there appears to be a correlation between a tent caterpillar outbreak and the abundance of Black-billed Cuckoos. Quite how this knowledge becomes known to the cuckoos I am unable to explain.
Mayapples Podophyllum peltatum are now in flower and the forest floor was adorned with this species.
Bracket fungi, which for some reason hold a special fascination for me, were commonly found, some quite magnificent in their size, colouration and structure.
These organisms are among the many groups of fungi that comprise the phylum Basidiomycota. Ultimately they cause the death of the tree, thereby returning its nutrients to the cycle of growth in a healthy forest.