Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Common Cuckoo Information & Facts

As early as the middle of April, one may hear the familiar melodious call of the male common cuckoo, returned to his breeding grounds from far-off tropical or southern Africa.  The females, who arrive a week or ten days later, do not make this characteristic call, but a sound resembling that of the woodpecker.

Common-Cuckoo

Length: 33 cm. The male and female have like plumage.
Voice: The male’s call sounds like ‘cuc-coo’, the female’s like ‘kwickkwick-kwick’; the cry of the young resembles ‘tseetseetsee’.
Size of Egg: 19.7—26.4 X 14.7—18.8 mm. The eggs show marked variation in colouring.

Common Cuckoo Bird Habitat

Common Cuckoos often return to the same breeding grounds for several years in succession, and may be found in woods, field groves, large parks, overgrown graveyards as well as thickets beside water or even in large reed beds.

Breeding

The female roams her territory seeking small songbirds’ nests and, when she finds one that is suitable, removes any eggs it might contain, depositing her own in their stead, usually similar in colouring to those of the host.

From May to July one hen lays about 15 to 20 eggs, each in a different nest. An individual cuckoo lays eggs of like coloration, but often markedly different from those of other cuckoos. The period of incubation is 12 days and, on hatching, the young common cuckoo soon tumbles all the eggs and even the rightful progeny of its foster parents out of the nest.

Common-Cuckoo-Breeding-Family

The newly hatched cuckoo is completely naked and has very sensitive sensory cells on its back that, during the first four days, react to contact with any foreign object in the nest, including both eggs and the hatched offspring of the foster parents. Adult cuckoos feed on hairy caterpillars. In late July or early September, the cuckoo leaves the breeding areas for its winter quarters.

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