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.

We have been able to share our expertise around tracking Cuckoos with other international studies, such as the Beijing Cuckoo Project.

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 01 May 2016 to 19 February 2017

View routes starting..
Cuckoo positions on

Latest News

Bill in Gabon - 16 Feb 2017
Signals received on the 8 February show that Bill is still alive and well and has continued north to Gabon. 
Selborne heads for southern forest - 07 Feb 2017
Having gone so far north and west, past the rains, it's reassuring to see that Selborne has headed south a little to the Guinean forests, where conditions are likely to be better than his previous location 115km (70 miles north). 
Selborne in West Africa - 03 Feb 2017

We have our first Cuckoo in West Africa and it's Selborne! Having left land and set off across the Gulf of Guinea, it looks like Selborne travelled around 240km (150 miles) to the volcanic island of Bioko. Here he seems to have rested for the day on 28 January in the Luba Crater Scientific Reserve which is a protected area with dense rainforest. 

When he left he headed off on a different tangent to that he had been taking, travelling 1185km (735 miles) straight towards Ghana, arriving there sometime before 10am on 30 January. By 10pm on 1 Feb he was already a further 800km (500 miles) north-west and was in southern Guinea. His tag location shows him to be in the densely forested mountainous plateau of the Guinea Highlands.

This is the earliest we have seen one of our tagged Cuckoos this far west - they don't normally get here until late March or April. His oversea passage might be related to this (i.e. not going around the Gulf of Guinea but over it) - he really seems to have been making a beeline for a specific destination a long way west, unlike our other cuckoos which head west into West Africa much slower, stopping at suitable locations along the way. It's a bit worrying as he has overshot the rains by some margin, so we have to hope he finds suitable locations.

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