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PJ is named in memory of Pamela Joy Miller who passed on her passion for birds to her nephews and nieces and their children - now all her family can follow PJ's journey and think of Pam

Cuckoo 161318 portrait
Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - 06:00
Tagging Location:
King's Forest, Suffolk, England
Age when found:
Satellite Tag No.:
Wing Length (mm):

PJ's journey from 02 May 2021 to 06 May 2022

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PJ's position on
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PJ's movements

09 Jun 2022 - The end of the road for PJ

We are very sad to report that the time has finally come to bid farewell to our old friend PJ, the longest lived of our satellite tagged Cuckoos to date. PJ was tagged in the King's Forest in Suffolk on Tuesday 7 June, 2016 when he was already a second year bird (i.e. hatched in 2015). He arrived back in the UK on 24th April this year but there have been no transmissions from his tag since 6th May when he was still at his breeding grounds in the King's Forest. Tag failures are rare in the UK, where the tags are not exposed to such harsh conditions as when the birds are on migration, so we must assume that PJ has reached the end of his life. He was at least seven years old when he arrived in the King’s Forest this spring, only one year short of the longevity record for a wild UK Cuckoo.

As well as being the first tagged Cuckoo to use both the Spanish and Italian routes to the wintering grounds in the Congo Basin, PJ completed six epic tracked migrations to Africa and back. This is the greatest number of migratory journeys of any tagged Cuckoo. When he returned to the UK in April this year he had over 60,000 miles under his wing.

Although PJ may be gone, his legacy - six years of location data - lives on, and his contribution to our understanding of Cuckoo migration will continue to inform BTO’s research. PJ built on the contributions of all the tagged Cuckoos before him, just as this year’s cohort will build on the knowledge we gained from PJ - a body of research which we hope will help reverse the sad decline seen in the UK Cuckoo population.

We are grateful for the data and the inspiration that PJ has given us and hope that you too have enjoyed following him. If you'd like to share any reflections on PJ's amazing story we would love to hear them.

27 May 2022 - No news from PJ

It's been a couple of weeks since we've received any updates from PJ. The last transmission from his tag showed that he was at his breeding grounds in the King's Forest, Thetford.

25 Apr 2022 - PJ is back again

New updates received early yesterday morning (24 April) showed that PJ had flown the final 1,000 km from northern Spain and was back in the UK. Further updates received since tell us that he is safely back on his breeding grounds in the King's Forest in Suffolk having completed his sixth tracked migration between the UK and Africa. Each complete migration from Suffolk to his wintering grounds in the Congo Basin and back again is approximately 16,000 km (9,940 miles) so we have now tracked him over at least 96,000 km (59,640 miles). He was a second year bird when we tagged him so he had already completed a full migration cycle before we tagged him in 2016. This means that over the course of his life so far he has flown 112,000 km (69,580 miles) on migration alone. It is a wonder he has any energy left to chase around his breeding grounds defending his territory and searching for mates! The oldest ringed UK Cuckoo was caught alive at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire in 1983 - 6 years, 11 months and 2 days after he was ringed as an adult, making him at least 7 years, 11 months and 2 days old. PJ will have to survive another year to vie for the crown of the UK's oldest known Cuckoo but his achievements so far have already exceeded our wildest expectations - what a bird!

18 Apr 2022 - PJ reaches northern Spain

Over the last 472 Km (294 miles) north to northern Spain. He is now more or less neck and neck with Victor II who is approximately 200 Km (125 miles) east of him. PJ is now in the Sierra del Perdon mountain range approximately 10 Km south of Pamplona. 

11 Apr 2022 - PJ nudges west in Spain

New updates show that PJ has flown 57 km (35 miles) west and is now in the Sierra de Alacaraz mountain range in Albacete Province, southeast Spain.

Past updates from PJ

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© British Trust for Ornithology.