Cuckoo Cuculus canorus   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Cuculiformes Family: Cuculidae
BTO Codes: CK, CUCKO EURING No: 7240
Number in Britain: 15 thousand Pairs (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
Subspecies: canorus recorded in Britain (of 4 subsp. in the world)
Length: 33 cm Wingspan: 58 cm Weight: M: 130 g   F: 110 g    
Scientific name from: L.: cuculus=the cuckoo and L.: canorus=melodius (from canere=to sing)
World Distribution: BREEDS: Europe, Asia, n Africa, WINTERS: south to s Africa, s Asia
Habitat: Open woodland, taiga, steppe forest
Diet: Insects, esp. large, hairy caterpillars avoided by others and beetles
TitBit: Females lay their eggs in the nest of the species which raised them (Dunnock, Reed Warbler and Meadow Pipit are current favoured 'hosts'). A single female may visit up to 50 nests each year.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
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Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: Scotland   Wales   England   English Regions
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore    BBS Maps
British Population Size:
    Summer: 15 thousand Pairs in 2009
    First Record: Recorded in Anglo-Saxon times
    Latest Survey: Newson, S.E. et al. (2008) Journal of Applied Ecology 45:1330-1338
    Conservation Status: RED because Recent Breeding Population Decline,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern: canorus RED (Recent Decline)
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    Common in: Reedbed
    Also found in: Scrub, Marsh
Relative Frequency in Each Habitat:
Average Day of First Arrival: 19 Apr
European Population Size:
    Summer: 1.7 to 3.6 million pairs   (Trend in Numbers)
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: Bern(III), NERC (41)
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 22 x 17 mm Egg Weight: 3.2 g (of which 7 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 26
Clutch Size: 1 - 25 eggs
Incubation: 11- 13 days   by the: Host
Fledging: 17 - 21days as: Altricial, naked
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 1-25
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: No data
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: 2 years Typical Lifespan: No data
Maximum Recorded Age: 6 years 11 months 2 days (set in 1983)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: D
Wing Length Adult: 218.2 8.1 Range 207 - 232 mm, N =144
Juvenile: 198.8 13.9 169 - 218 mm, N =105
Male: 222.3 7.0 210 - 234 mm, N =85
Female: 211.9 5.2 204 - 221 mm, N =52
Weight Adult: 114.3 15.69 Range 93.00 - 143.0 g , N =119
Juvenile: 92.10 14.64 70.50 - 121.0 g , N =99
Male: 119.9 13.82 98.00 - 143.0 g , N =68
Female: 107.2 15.55 86.00 - 130.5 g , N =46
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Common Cuckoo
Gaelic: Cuthag Welsh: Cog
Danish: Gg Dutch: Koekoek
Finnish: Kki French: Coucou gris
German: Kuckuck Hungarian: Kakukk
Icelandic: Gaukur Irish: Cuach
Italian: Cuculo Norwegian: Gjk
Polish: Kukulka zwyczajna Portuguese: Cuco-canoro
Spanish: Cuco Swedish: Gk

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Wyllie, I. 1981 The cuckoo Batsford, London [598.642 WYL]
   Payne, R.B. 2005 The Cuckoos Oxford University Press [598.62 PAY]
   Rothschild, M. 1952 Fleas, flukes and cuckoos Collins, London [591.1 ROT]
See Also:
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Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides