PJ the Cuckoo: his legacy lives on
PJ the Cuckoo: his legacy lives on08 Jun 2022
A record-breaking Cuckoo, nicknamed ‘PJ’ has died in his summer territory in King's Forest, Suffolk, but data from his tag will continue to inform our research.
PJ was tagged in King’s Forest in June 2016, as part of BTO’s ongoing Cuckoo Tracking Project. Named in memory of Pamela Joy Miller, who passed on her passion for birds to her family, he soon became an icon.
All the Cuckoos tagged by BTO researchers give us equally valuable data, regardless of their lifespan, but PJ captured the hearts and minds of the public with his longevity. As well as being the first tagged Cuckoo to use both the Spanish and Italian routes to the wintering grounds located in the Congo Basin, he completed at least six epic annual migrations to Africa and back. This is the greatest number of migratory journeys of any tagged Cuckoo, and he returned to the UK in April this year with over 60,000 miles under his wing.
Paul Stancliffe reflects on PJ's legacy, from advancing our understanding of Cuckoo migration to engaging the public across the world.Read more
Sadly, there has been no transmission from PJ’s tag since 6th May. Tag failures are rare in the UK, where they are not exposed to such harsh conditions as when the birds are on migration, so we must assume that PJ has reached the end of his life. He was at least seven years old when he arrived in King’s Forest this spring, only one year short of the longevity record for a wild UK Cuckoo.
Although PJ may be gone, his legacy - six years of location data - lives on, and his contribution to our understanding of Cuckoo migration will continue to inform BTO’s research. PJ built on the contributions of all the tagged Cuckoos before him, just as this year’s cohort will build on the knowledge we gained from PJ - a body of research which may help reverse this sad decline seen in many UK Cuckoo populations.
Explore the project
From Cuckoo tagging in Mongolia to developing bespoke fieldwork techniques, read more about Cuckoo Tracking at BTO.
Discover our research
What has the Cuckoo Tracking Project taught us? Read about BTO's work to understand the drivers of Cuckoo declines.
The Making of Into the Red
When 140 artists and writers come together, united by a common goal: to raise funds for the UK's most vulnerable birds.
One bird, twelve journeys, 60 000 miles and invaluable scientific data: PJ the Cuckoo has left an incredible legacy.