British wildlife recordings
Cuculus canorus : Common Cuckoo - Cuculidae
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Cowley, Gloucestershire: OS Grid Reference(396500,214500)
Williams, Aubrey John
Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus
The song of the cuckoo recorded at Cowley, Gloucestershire. Although the call of the cuckoo is one of the most instantly recognised sounds in nature, surprisingly few people ever see this secretive bird. This British summer visitor from central and southern Africa resembles a small bird of prey with a slim body, long tail, and pointed wings. The male is a blue-grey colour all over, apart from a black and white barred belly. The cuckoo can be found in a variety of habitats but is most often encountered in reed-bed, moorland, woodland edge, or farmland. The famous 'cuc-oo' call of the male gives the bird its name, and is a sure sign that spring is under way. The cuckoo is parasitic upon the nests of birds such as the meadow pipit, reed warbler, and dunnock. The female picks a host nest and removes an egg, only to replace it with one of her own. The hatched cuckoo chick then systematically pushes all the other chicks out of the nest until is the sole recipient of food from the unaware host parents. There are 13,000 to 26,000 pairs in Britain, but numbers appear to be falling in recent years as agricultural changes may be affecting the populations of the cuckoo's 'host' birds.