Cuck-who? Amazing new call caught on video
Scientists have reported a strange twist in the tale of Europe’s harbinger of spring the Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus. In a dramatic discovery, returning cuckoos have been heard and filmed calling with a highly distinctive variation of the normal call. The new call is best described as “Ooo-Cuck, Ooo-Cuck”.
The quintessential sound of spring, “Cuck-Ooo, Cuck-Ooo”, is usually given by the male bird on returning to the breeding grounds. However, in areas of rural eastern Finland - centred around the village of Looflirpa - males are giving this distinctive new call.
Scientists are as yet uncertain as to why the new call has evolved. It could be connected to the famous characteristic of the cuckoo, that of laying their eggs in the nests of other species of birds, who become the foster parents for the cuckoo chicks. It has been suggested that it is used to confuse prospective foster parents, who have become accustomed to the traditional call and mob cuckoos as a consequence. However, more work is needed to elucidate this bizarre change.
Unfortunately this new discovery doesn’t appear to account for the dramatic decline in the Common Cuckoo.
“Like many migratory songbirds, Common Cuckoos are believed to be threatened by changes in the wider landscape including agricultural intensification, desertification, deforestation and climate change”, noted Richard Grimmett – BirdLife’s Head of Conservation. “We’ve experienced recent declines in western European populations of Common Cuckoo, and the British population has fallen by a staggering 59% since 1967”.
In response to worrying declines of many migratory species, BirdLife has launched the Born to Travel Campaign to protect migratory birds along the African-Eurasian flyway. BirdLife Partner organisations operate in more than 70 countries along the flyway, and are working together to raise awareness about migratory birds and implement joined-up conservation projects. “International collaboration is the only way to conserve migratory birds”, added Mr Grimmett.This news is brought to you by Born to Travel - BirdLife's Flyways Campaign. To read more about the BirdLife Partnership’s global work to save migratory birds, click here.
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