Encounter: Pied Crested Cuckoo or Jacobin Cuckoo

The arrival of the Pied Crested Cuckoo is believed to announce that the monsoon is here

The Pied Crested Cuckoo is a beautiful bird which visits India in the winter from Africa. I have been sighting these guys continuously for the past 3 years, and its timing has been impeccable -- right at the onset of the monsoon. This time the first sighting was a couple of days before the monsoon arrived.

I remember having seen him three years back on the outskirts of Mysore. I had barely begun birding at that time, and I was struck dumb by its stunning and unique appearance. The black-and-white body and the distinct crest were nothing short of stunning for me. It was really close to me and by the time I fumbled with my camera and got a couple of shots off, the bird had flown away. And both shots ended up blurred.

Last year we saw a pair again in the same vicinity and got one of them really close for photography. This year, I have sighted at least 20 of them, in various parts, though my luck with photography was considerably less. But I got an opportunity to see one feeding on a caterpillar and got a record shot yesterday!

Text and Photos: Sandeep Somasekharan