Tucked away in the lush plum thickets of Oklahoma’s Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, a secretive bird was waiting to be found. With patience and persistence, I was rewarded with a rare sighting of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a migratory species as beautiful as it is difficult to spot.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

As I quietly explored the refuge’s auto tour road, a subtle rustling in the foliage caught my eye. I steadied my lens in anticipation, and suddenly the source of the movement revealed itself – a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, its distinctive bill and mottled gray-brown plumage popping against the green backdrop. Though wary, it allowed me to capture some precious photographs before it melted back into the thicket.

The Sequoyah Refuge has proven to be a key haven for these elusive birds, providing ideal habitat with its diverse wetlands, forests, and grasslands. Here, Yellow-billed Cuckoos find refuge during their breeding season, feasting on the bountiful insects and caterpillars. Yet their reclusive nature and camouflage make sightings a rare treat.

Sadly, habitat loss across North America has led to declines in Yellow-billed Cuckoo populations in recent decades. As forests are cleared and wetlands drained, these birds are losing vital nesting and foraging grounds. However, conservation efforts like those at Sequoyah Refuge offer hope, creating protected spaces where populations can recover.

Now it is up to us to build on these efforts, promoting sustainable land use and habitat protection so future generations can also experience the wonder of seeing Yellow-billed Cuckoos in their natural realm. Though finding them will never be easy, safeguarding their future is a pursuit well worth the challenge.

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: RF100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM


  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: July 26, 2022 (06:46 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f7.1
  • Shutter speed: 1/640
  • ISO: 6400
  • Exposure Compensation: 0
  • Focal Length: 500 mm

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