Cuckoo Tracking Project

Cuckoo. Alan McFadyen

What have the Cuckoos taught us?

When the Cuckoo Tracking Project began, we knew very little about what our breeding Cuckoos did once they left the UK for the winter months.

Amost 100 tagged birds later, our new blog explores what we have learned and the questions we're still asking.

Read the article

Help us follow Cuckoos on migration and discover why they are in decline

The Cuckoo is currently Red Listed as a Bird of Conservation Concern in the UK, due to its population decline.

Since 2011 we’ve been satellite-tracking Cuckoos to find out why they are declining. We’ve learned lots of vital information which could help us to understand our Cuckoos, such as how the different routes taken are linked to declines, and some of the pressures they face whilst on migration — but there is still more to discover.

We now need to look more closely at how dependent they are on, and how much their migration is linked, to the drought-busting rains of the weather frontal system known as the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) as they move out of the Congo rainforest and begin to head back to the UK via West Africa.

  • This project wouldn't have been possible without the amazing support from funders and sponsors. Read more about the project and find out how you can get involved.
  • We have been able to share our expertise around tracking Cuckoos with other international studies, such as the Beijing Cuckoo Project.

Follow our Cuckoos as they move to and from Africa

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    • Follow our Cuckoos on the map below - use the controls to animate or step through their movements.

    Cuckoo movements from 01 May 2023 to 09 June 2023

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    Current Cuckoos

    Bluey. Bluey


    ID: 242385
    Status: active
    Cuach Carran. Carran

    Cuach Carran

    ID: 242389
    Status: active
    Cuach Cores. Cores

    Cuach Cores

    ID: 242386
    Status: active
    Cuach Torc. Torc

    Cuach Torc

    ID: 242384
    Status: active
    George. George


    ID: 242387
    Status: active
    JAC the Cuckoo JAC


    ID: 213805
    Status: active
    Jasper. Jasper


    ID: 232668
    Status: active
    Joe, Cranwich Heath, 2022. PTT 232670 Joe


    ID: 232670
    Status: active
    KP. KP


    ID: 242388
    Status: active
    Cleeve (2023 tagged Cuckoo) Michael


    ID: 242426
    Status: active
    Sayaan. Sayaan


    ID: 242502
    Status: active
    Trent Trent


    ID: 242383
    Status: active

    View previously tagged birds

    Latest updates

    The end of the road for Cuckoo JAC

    09 Jun 2023

    We are very sad to report that we have heard the last from Cuckoo JAC.

    JAC, named in loving memory of Professor Jenny Clack, was tagged at World’s End near Llangollen on 1 June 2021. Since then we have had the privilege of tracking him over two full migration cycles from Wales to Africa and back.

    His route south across the Sahara took him via Algeria and Mali to the Sahelian areas of Burkina Faso or Niger. He then spent some time in northern Nigeria before heading on to the Congo. On his return migration north, he visited West Africa where he stopped in Ivory Coast in 2022 and Guinea in 2023, arriving back in Llangollen around the end of April each year. 

    The diagnostic data received from his tag shows the recorded temperature dropping and this, along with the fact that he appears to have been stationary for quite a while, suggests that he has perished (rather than there being a tag failure).

    He has made a very valuable contribution to our growing knowledge of Cuckoo ecology and we will miss reporting on his movements.  

    Bluey moves south

    08 Jun 2023
    Over the last couple of days, Bluey has left Knepp and flown approximately 15 km (9 miles) south-east towards Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex. After popping briefly into Buckingham Park, he has been exploring the area around the village of Upper Bleeding. It’ll be interesting to see whether this is the start of his migration or if he will head back towards Knepp. 

    Introducing Cuckoo Michael

    07 Jun 2023

    Cuckoo Michael was tagged on Loddon Common in the Norfolk Broads, and after retrieving him from the nets, the team made the exciting discovery that he was already fitted with a BTO ring. We soon discovered that he had been ringed in May 2019 at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire. We were touched to discover that the ringer was the late Michael Holdsworth, a member of the Wicken Fen Ringing Group and a wonderfully supportive BTO member who sadly passed away unexpectedly in 2019.

    An anonymous donor has kindly agreed for us to name this bird Michael in his memory. Having been instrumental in our Spotted Flycatcher tracking work, Michael would have been thrilled to know that the Cuckoo he had ringed had been recaught and that we would be tracking his movements from now on. Since being tagged, Michael has remained at his breeding grounds on Loddon Common. 

    Browse updates from our Cuckoos

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    Project timeline, contributions & findings

    Project timeline

    • 5/11 - First round of five Cuckoos tagged, wintering sites in the Congo identified 
    • 3/12 - Different routes discovered on return journeys
    • 2016 - First scientific paper published on on the routes of our Cuckoos