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Cuckoos - Chris and Lyster in the UK.

An update on the 2 BTO Satellite - tagged cuckoos who have returned from Africa – Chris and Lyster.

Chris arrived back in the Brecks, and has spent most of his time focusing on small pockets of woodland near Mildenhall, Suffolk. He was originally tagged on the edge of forest close to Santon Downham, Suffolk, and it seems that he is very much a forest Cuckoo, presumably looking for females that target birds like Pipits and Dunnocks.

Lyster arrived in the Norfolk Broads and has roamed over a large area. Early last week he seemed to settle close to Malthouse Broad, northeast of South Walsham. This week he has moved and is now close to London and Chedgrave. He is very active, flying around and 'cuckooing', presumably in search of a female. As a Broads Cuckoo, we assume that Lyster is a “Reed Warbler” Cuckoo and that he is looking for females that target Reed Warblers.

Please help - BTO urgently need new sponsors to help us fund this work on Scottish birds and to enable us to start on some Welsh birds too.

TheCommon Cuckoo - Cuculus canorus

The Common Cuckoo - Cuculus canorus – formerly European Cuckoo is a widespread summer migrant to Europe, Asia and winters in Africa. Breeds across Eurasia, in the non-breeding season it heads south it to sub-Saharan Africa.


Adult males are slate-grey with barred underparts. The iris, orbital ring, the base of the bill and short legs and feet are yellow. Grey adult females have a pinkish-buff or buff background to the barring and neck sides. Rufous phase adult females have reddish-brown upperparts with dark grey or black bars. Common Cuckoos in their first autumn have variable plumage. Some are have strongly-barred chestnut-brown upperparts, while others are plain grey. Rufous-brown birds have heavily-barred upperparts with some feathers edged with creamy-white.


The male's call, goo-ko, is usually given from an open perch. The female has a loud bubbling call.


Diet consists of insects, especially hairy caterpillars.


Common Cuckoos first breed at two years old. The Common Cuckoo is a brood parasite. It lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. At the appropriate moment, the hen cuckoo flies down to the host's nest, pushes one egg out, lays an egg and flies off. The whole process takes about 10 seconds. A female may visit up to 50 nests during a breeding season. The chick hatches after 11–13 days. It methodically evicts all host progeny from host nests. It is a much larger bird than its hosts, and needs to monopolise the food supplied by the parents. The chick will roll the other eggs out of the nest by pushing them with its back over the edge.

Conservation Status – Least concern

Not threatened, in fact it is widespread and common in Southern Africa. In the UK a marked decline in numbers.


Cuckoos can be seen throughout the UK, but are especially numerous in southern and central England. Adults arrive in late March or April and depart in July or August, with young birds leaving a month or so later.

Ask Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures to create a custom tour for you or book on one of the following  scheduled Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures: -

Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.


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