The Common Cuckoo is a widespread summer migrant to Europe and Asia and spends the non-breeding season in Africa. In Europe, hearing the call of the Common Cuckoo is regarded as the first harbinger of spring. Many local legends and traditions are based on this. The Common Cuckoo’s diet consists of insects, with hairy caterpillars being a particular preference. It will also occasionally eat eggs and chicks. It is estimated that there are between 25 million and 100 million individuals worldwide.
It is a brood parasite, which means it lays its eggs in the nests of other species of bird, such as Dunnock, Meadow Pipit, and Eurasian Reed Warbler. At the appropriate moment, the hen cuckoo flies down to the host’s nest, pushes one egg out, lays an egg and flies off. The whole process takes about 10 seconds. A female may visit up to 50 nests during a breeding season.
Range Map for Common Cuckoo along the African-Eurasian Flyway showing breeding range (red) and non-breeding range (green).