Cuckoo Tracking Project

Cuckoo. Alan McFadyen

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

We’ve lost over half the number of Cuckoos in the UK over the last 20 years. Since 2011 we’ve been satellite-tracking Cuckoos to find out why. 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 sponsorsRead 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 23 May 2019 to 15 September 2019

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Current Cuckoos

Carlton II the Cuckoo Carlton II the Cuckoo

Carlton II

Status: active
Knepp the Cuckoo Knepp the Cuckoo

Knepp

Status: active
Lambert the Cuckoo Lambert the Cuckoo

Lambert

Status: active

Larry

Status: presumed dead
Nussey the Cuckoo Nussey the Cuckoo

Nussey

Status: active
Cuckoo 161318 portrait Cuckoo 161318 map marker

PJ

Status: active
Raymond the Cuckoo Raymond the Cuckoo

Raymond

Status: presumed dead
Robinson the Cuckoo Robinson the Cuckoo

Robinson

Status: deceased
Senan the Cuckoo Senan the Cuckoo

Senan

Status: active
Tennyson the Cuckoo Tennyson the Cuckoo

Tennyson

Status: active
Thomas the Cuckoo Thomas the Cuckoo

Thomas

Status: unknown
Valentine the Cuckoo Valentine the Cuckoo

Valentine

Status: active

View previously tagged birds

Latest updates

Carlton II crosses into Mali

09 Sep 2019
Over the weekend Carlton II left Senegal and has flown 534 km (332 miles) east into Mali. He is now in the south eastern part of the Kayes region of Mali, approximately 145 km (90 miles) north west of the capital, Bamako. Cuckoos Valentine and Senan are over the border in Burkina Faso while PJ and Tennyson are more than 1,500 km further east in Nigeria. 

A challenging autumn migration

04 Sep 2019

The last few weeks have been quiet and for those who had not yet completed their desert crossings, it looks like the challenging conditions have claimed more of our tagged Cuckoos.

Unfortunately no further signals have been received from Knepp. From the temperature data and movements at the time, he was alive on 12 July, when we last heard from his tag. Though the battery charge had been low for a few days, there is no evidence of long term battery decline so we can't be sure what has happened to him - either he, or the tag, appear to have died suddenly. 

Lambert, who was still in France, has not moved on south and signals on 21 August showed high temperature fluctuations across the day, indicating the bird's body temperature and behaviour were not regulating it. We've heard nothing since then, and his tags battery charge had suddenly dipped, all of which leads us to believe he has likely died.

Unfortunately the challenging conditions have also impacted on Nussey who has already attempted two trips to Africa and retreated to Europe.  Abnormally low temperatures were received at the time of the last messages (16 August), having previously been fine. He was not migrating at that time, so the low temperatures were not due to high altitude, and the battery was also much lower than previously, further suggesting he was dead.

The droughts and exceptionally high temperatures in Europe appear to have proved difficult for our Cuckoos this year, however the five south of the Sahara are still regularly transmitting. Valentine, PJ, Carlton II and Tennysons' tags have all sent signals during September and the last signals received from Senan's tag were at the end of August and show him still in Burkina Faso.

Valentine moves north in Burkina Faso

21 Aug 2019
In the last couple of days Valentine has flown 74 km (46 miles) north west from his last location towards the border with Mali. He is now close to the city of Solenzo in the far west of Burkina Faso.

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

Support the project

You can help keep this important project going by either giving a donation, becoming a Cuckoo sponsor, or gifting a sponsorship to someone else. We greatly appreciate the support the project has received, allowing us to continue to monitor this endangered species.


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