Tracking Cuckoos to Africa... and back again

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 -  about the routes they have taken, 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.

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.

Our Cuckoos have now started their outward journey from their breeding grounds in the UK. Follow them below as they make their way back to Africa.


Cuckoo movements from 08 May 2016 to 23 July 2016

View routes starting..
Cuckoo positions on

Latest News

161323 visits Africa and then Spain - 21 Jul 2016
On 12 July, Cuckoo 161323 was in south-central France, west of Vichy, but by lunchtime on 14 July he had flown south, crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Africa. A couple of locations received from him on showed that he was in Tunisia, near to the Table de Jugurtha. Having made North Africa we thought that he might stay here for a little while before attempting the crossing of the desert, but he surprised us by heading west into Algeria and then north-west across the Mediterranean again before arriving in southern Spain on 17 July, settling in the Sierra Nevada mountains, just north of Almeria. It seems that the urge to get to a stopover site in Spain, one that this bird has probably used on previous migrations, was so strong that it overruled the fact that he had made it to Africa.
Cuckoo 161322's incredible journey - 20 Jul 2016

During the late evening on 13 July, locations received from Cuckoo 161322 showed that he had left Italy and was heading out across the Mediterranean. As the night and early morning of the next day unfolded it became clear that he had embarked on an incredible journey. At 10.30pm he was 15km (9 miles) from the French coast close to the Illes de Hyeres and heading south.

The next location we received was at 7.30am on the morning of the 15 July. At this time he was over the sea, 45km (28 miles) north of Algiers and the North African coast. An hour later he was 65km (40 miles) to the west and flying parallel to the coast, albeit 30 miles out. At 8.40am he had turned north and was heading back out into the Mediterranean sea, only to turn west again and head in the direction of mainland Spain. By 10.30am he was midway between Algiers on the North African coast and Guardamar del Segura, near Murcia on the Spanish coast. He maintained this course and by noon was 54km (33 miles) from the Spanish coast.

He made landfall at 3.30pm just north of Guardamar del Segura but this isn't the end of this incredible journey. On the 18 June he had headed north and was just west of Madrid at a stopover site that several of our tagged Cuckoos have used in the past. It seems that this was where he intended to fly to when he left the French coast, but had possibly drifted off course. As soon as he could he corrected this and eventually made it there three days later, presumably much lighter than when he set off.

Peckham in the Po valley - 12 Jul 2016
On 10 July Peckham arrived in the Po valley in northern Italy. This is the same area in which he carried out his stopover last year, arriving here in 2015 on 4 July. In 2015 he remained in the area until 29 July.

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Information on this page is only for illustrative purposes and cannot be used without our permission © British Trust for Ornithology.