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.

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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.

Follow our Cuckoos as they move to and from 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.

Skill required

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

Cuckoo movements from 01 May 2022 to 09 August 2022

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Current Cuckoos

Bluey, Knepp Estate, 2022. PTT 232673. Bluey Cuckoo Map Pin

Bluey

Status: active
Charles, Knepp Estate, 2022. PTT 232745. Charles Cuckoo Map Pin

Charles

Status: presumed dead
Cooper, New Forest, 2022. PTT 232672. Cooper Cuckoo Map Pin

Cooper

Status: active
Daniel the Cuckoo 50042 the Cuckoo

Daniel

Status: active
Ellis the Cuckoo Ellis the Cuckoo

Ellis

Status: active
Grove II, Wildgoose Rural Training Centre, 2022. PTT 232674. Grove II Cuckoo Map Pin

Grove II

Status: active
JAC the Cuckoo JAC the Cuckoo

JAC

Status: active
JD, Cranwich Heath, 2022. PTT 232671. JD Cuckoo Map Pin

JD

Status: presumed dead
Joe, Cranwich Heath, 2022. PTT 232670 Joe Cuckoo Map Pin

Joe

Status: active
Ripple, Strensham, 2022. PTT 232669 Ripple Cuckoo Map Pin

Ripple

Status: active
Victor II the Cuckoo Victor II the Cuckoo

Victor II

Status: active

View previously tagged birds

Latest updates

JAC flies from Benin to Nigeria

10 Aug 2022
JAC's visit to Benin was brief as new updates received last night show that he has flow 186km(116 miles) south east, taking him over the border into Nigeria. He is now in north western Nigeria, on the edge of the Illoka Oje Forest Reserve. Last year JAC spent almost two weeks in western Nigeria before moving further east into north central Nigeria where he remained until early October. He then moved directly to the Congo Basin where he spent the winter. 

JAC visits Benin

08 Aug 2022
After a brief visit to eastern Burkina Faso, JAC has hopped over the border into Benin. He is now in the W National Park in the far north of Benin, close to the Mekrou River which separates Benin from Burkina Faso. 

Saying goodbye to JD

08 Aug 2022
In our previous update, we shared with you that strong winds had carried JD 300 miles (482 km) out to sea, from the coast of Western Sahara towards the Cape Verde archipelago. Against all the odds, he made it back to the African mainland, raising hopes that this Norfolk bird's watery detour had not put an end to his journey to the Congo basin. Sadly, however, it appears that JD has perished as no further updates have been received since the last signal from his tag on 24 July, shortly after he made landfall close to the port of Nouadhibou, Mauritania’s second city. Having lost sight of land while out at sea, JD had returned the way he came. Without a ‘mental map’ to follow, he couldn’t have known that flying due East would have meant a considerably shorter journey and perhaps a better chance of survival. As it is, JD’s energy reserves appear to have been exhausted, sadly leaving him unable to find food or, perhaps, at greater risk of predation. No matter how long we are able to follow each Cuckoo, the data they provide contributes to our growing understanding of these remarkable birds and how we can work to protect them – JD and his adventures are no exception.

Browse updates from our Cuckoos

Project Lead
Email Contact:
cuckoos@bto.org

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