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2012-07-20
Tagged Idemili, recuperates in Leatherhead UK.


Idemili is the first female cuckoo to have a satellite tag fitted. She joins five male birds that have been tagged in Wales. She is an adult of at least two years of age and was caught in the Brechfa Forest, Carmarthanshire, Wales, on 10th June 2012. Idemili was named by Essex & Suffolk Water after the river goddess of the African Igbo religion in Nigeria, a region where the Cuckoos spent some of the winter in 2011/12.

After spending a month at her tagging location in Brechfa Forest, Idemili followed her male colleagues and moved eastwards to Surrey. She was in Wales on the evening of 9th July and we next heard from her in Surrey on the morning of 11th July. We thought all was well but received a phone call on 13th July from the Wildlife Aid Foundation in Leatherhead to say she had been picked up on 12th July in a garden in Tolworth, Surrey. She was underweight and had some wounds to her wing and some feathers were missing from her head indicating she had been attacked by another bird. She survived the night and is taking mealworms, crickets and water so there is hope that she will recover. While the bird hospital have confirmed that she shows no evidence of damage from the tag, Dr Chris Hewson, lead scientist on the project at the BTO, visited Idemili on 14th July to remove her tag while she recuperates, and to assess her physical condition. She is in excellent hands at the hospital and we will be keeping a close eye on her as she recovers.

The Common Cuckoo

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.

Description

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.

Call

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

Food

Diet consists of insects, especially hairy caterpillars.

Breeding

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.

Birdwatching

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.

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