BTO Cuckoos are back!

01 Apr 2015 | No. 2015-16

Two of the British Trust for Ornithology satellite-tagged Cuckoos have made it back to the UK, having left for the winter in Africa ten months earlier. 

Hennah, a Cuckoo that was fitted with his tag in May 2014, was the first to arrive back on 15 April. Locations received on that day showed that he was back in the New Forest, close to the location in which his satellite-tag was fitted.

Dr Chris Hewson, the scientist leading the project at the BTO, said, “We last heard from Hennah on 9 February when he was in Sierra Leone and had become concerned about what might have happened to him. So, it was a great relief, and surprise, when he suddenly popped up back here.”

He added, “The lack of signals between Africa and the UK, and the very low battery charge since he got back, indicate that either the tag is failing or something is preventing it from charging properly, so it’s fantastically fortunate that we’ve received these signals to confirm that Hennah is alive and well and has successfully arrived back in the UK.”

Hot on Hennah’s heels was Dudley, who arrived back in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, a day later on 16 April. Both birds have spent the winter months 5,000 miles away in the Congo rainforest.
The Cuckoo has declined by 73% during the last twenty-five years, with the decline being greatest in England. The population in Scotland is stable or increasing slightly and the decline in Wales is less severe than in England. The BTO research aims to find out why this is the case.

Dr Hewson, commented, “We know a lot about the behaviour of the Cuckoo when it is here in the UK but our research has shown us that some of these birds spend as little as six weeks here, so it is vital to understand what pressures they face on the journeys to and from Africa and in the locations they spend the winter months. We can only do this using this cutting edge technology.”
For more information, and to follow the Cuckoos as they make their way back to the UK, please visit

Notes for Editors

1. Ten satellite-tagged Cuckoos are currently making their way back to the UK. Two are already here, five are in Spain and three are still on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The BTO satellite-tagged Cuckoos can be followed here –

2. 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

Contact Information

Dr Chris Hewson
(BTO Senior Ecologist)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: chris.hewson [at]

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images [at] quoting reference 2015-16

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

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