Britain’s most famous Cuckoo is back!

01 Apr 2015 | No. 2015-18

A Cuckoo named Chris, after the wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham, has defied all the odds and returned to his Suffolk home for the fifth summer since he was fitted with a satellite-tag to follow his amazing journey.

In May 2011, Chris was fitted with the latest in cutting edge technology to help scientists at the British Trust for Ornithology understand why his species is undergoing a catastrophic decline; we have lost almost three-quarters of his kind since the late 80s.

Since leaving our shores in 2011, Chris has flown over, or visited, twenty-eight different countries, crossed the Sahara Desert eight times and reached speeds of up to 60mph.

Dr Chris Hewson, lead scientist on the project at the BTO, said, “Chris was one-year old when we fitted the satellite-tag, which makes him five-years old now, and quite an age for a Cuckoo; the oldest we have on record is almost seven. The tag was also given a life of two-to-three years, so that is getting quite old too. We had everything crossed for Chris to make it back again this year and give us another complete migration route, and he hasn’t let us down.”

He added, “The information this remarkable bird has given us is unparalleled. He has helped identify many of the pressures that our Cuckoos face once they leave the UK and, more importantly, the routes that they take to get to their winter quarters in the Congo rainforest – a mystery until the first tagged Cuckoos went there in 2011. He deserves a medal for his massive contribution to science.”

There are ten other tagged Cuckoos currently making their way back to their breeding locations here in the UK, all providing vital information on their species – you can follow them at

Notes for Editors

1. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.

2. Eleven satellite-tagged Cuckoos are currently making their way back to the UK. Seven are already here, one is in Algeria and the other three are still on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The BTO satellite-tagged Cuckoos can be followed here –  

Contact Details

Dr Chris Hewson
(BTO Senior Ecologist)
Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: chris.hewson [at]

Dr Ieuan Evans
(Associate Director Communications)
Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: ieuan.evans [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images [at] quoting reference 2015-18

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

Related content