Belongs to: birds

Cuckoo Cuculus canorus

Also known as: eurasian cuckoo

BoCC Red list

Best time to see: mid Apr to early Aug

Key facts

Large hawk-like bird with distinctive call that lays in other species' nests

Habitat: gardens, marshes, heaths, fields, woods and hedges

Winters in Africa and comes to the UK in summer to breed; in serious decline


Barred underparts, grey upperparts, long tail and wings; looking like a hawk probably to distract; 32 cm

Flies with wings held low; male often perches high on trees in the evening, calling to attract females 

Feeds on insects


Arrives from Africa in the 2nd or 3rd week of April, leaving again in July or early August

Female lays eggs resembling those of the host in nests of species including dunnock, meadow pipit and reed warbler

Young cuckoos hatch first and tip out the other eggs, leaving for Africa in September, after their parents

© Mike Wright