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HTML Document The cuckoo

Release date 06/03/2006

Cuckoos can be found in open landscapes, in marshes with trees and shrubs and in parks. they hibernate in eastern Africa, but come back to breed.

The cuckoo’s reproduction tactics are notorious. The female craftily lays eggs in other birds’ nests. Although this cuckoo egg is usually larger than their own eggs, the nest owners remain oblivious to this: this beautiful big egg seems to make them glad! In this fashion a female cuckoo parasites as many as fifteen nests a year.

The nest owners hatch the "false" egg and feed the young cuckoo. This glutton doesn’t leave enough food for the other peepers and eventually has the nest all for itself. As soon as it is grown up, the young cuckoo leaves for eastern Africa. In spring it’s back and ready to parasite other birds’ nests.

How can you identify a cuckoo?

The cuckoo has a white underside with grey barring. Its head is grey and its back greyish brown. Its feet, bill and eyes are yellow. With its pointed wings, it looks rather like a sparrowhawk, but this last one has broader wings. A cuckoo is much easier heard than seen! Its name derives from its characteristic call: cuckoo! Its name sounds "koekoek" in Dutch, "coucou" in French, "Kuckuck" in German, "kukushka" in Russian and "kak-ko" in Japanese.

1 cuckoo
2 sparrowhawk

Cuckoos eat mainly insect larvae, but also worms, spiders and centipedes. They also like beetles, flies, butterflies and moths, many of them being harmful to agriculture (such as the maybug and the large white butterfly). And moreover, they fancy the hairy poisonous caterpillars despised by other birds.

Have you already heard a cuckoo? Click here to plot your observation on the map of NaturDetektive. This map will be open to add your observation from 15 March onwards.
Photos © Jiri Bohdal (this website will be opened in a new window)
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