Three tagged cuckoos reach Africa

Routes from Asia to Africa followed by Flappy (red), Skybomb (gold) and Meng (blue). Click on map to enlarge.

Flappy, the satellite-tagged Common Cuckoo sponsored by the Oriental Bird Club is currently in southern Mozambique, having crossed around 20 international borders on her migration south.

Flappy’s journey south, and that of two other satellite-tagged cuckoos, Meng and Skybomb, is shown in the map above.

All three have moved from their breeding grounds in Asia to south-east Africa. Flappy is currently the furthest south, close to the Zimbabwe border in Mozambique, while Skybomb was last reported a few weeks ago just north of Flappy, also in Mozambique. The lack of a recent signal from Skybomb could be because of tag failure, if the bird is inhabiting dense forest where a signal is not possible, or because the bird has perished. Researchers will be keenly awaiting further signals. Meanwhile, further to the north is Meng, the only male of the trio and a different subspecies (bakeri) to the two tagged female canorus. This individual migrated somewhat later than the other two birds and is some way behind in southern Tanzania.

Regular and social media, particularly in China, have carried numerous articles about the travels of the birds, reaching potentially hundreds of thousands if not millions of readers, and all helping raise awareness of the remarkable migrations undertaken by some Asian species.

Birding Beijing reports that “Cuihu Urban Wetland Park in Beijing, the location where Flappy was tagged, is planning to erect an information board about cuckoos for the general public. It will include what we know about the life-cycle and migration and, all being well, will include a map showing the migration route of Flappy.”

The Beijing Cuckoo Project aims to engage Chinese audiences about the wonders of bird migration with a view to promoting conservation and helping to strengthen the links between Chinese and international bird conservation organisations.

The main scientific goal was to discover the unknown migration route and winter quarters for Common Cuckoos breeding in East Asia.

The Beijing Cuckoo Project is a collaboration between the Beijing Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (BWRRC), China Birdwatching Society (CBS), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Birding Beijing.

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Alongside OBC, other supporters of the project are the Zoological Society of London and the British Birds Charitable Foundation and BirdLife International.

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