Record breaking Cuckoo returns to the UK - BTO

PJ the Cuckoo by Phil Atkinson
PJ the Cuckoo by Phil Atkinson

PJ the Cuckoo has returned to his forest home in Suffolk and has become a record breaker whilst doing so.

This special cuckoo is part of a project that is being carried out by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to help uncover what might be driving the UK Cuckoo population down; we have lost over two-thirds of our breeding Cuckoos in the UK as a whole and almost three-quarters of them in England during the last 23 years.

PJ was fitted with a satellite tag in June 2016 in King’s Forest, Suffolk, and has been providing scientists at the BTO with valuable information ever since. His arrival back in the forest sees him complete his fifth annual migration cycle to, from and within Africa since he was tagged, amassing a distance travelled of well over 50,000 miles and making him the only satellite tagged Cuckoo to have achieved this since the project began in 2011. During this time he has crossed the Sahara desert ten times alone, not counting all of his sea crossings and navigating the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the Pyrenees on the Spanish/French border. PJ was one year old when tagged, so this summer he will be six years old, taking him to within a year of the British longevity record for a ringed cuckoo, which stands at six years and eleven months for a bird found dead in 1983.

Dr Chris Hewson, Lead Scientist on the project at the BTO, said, “We have been avidly watching PJ since he began his journey back to the UK in late February, willing him to complete the journey back to the UK this spring. We can now heave a huge sigh of relief knowing he is safely back in Suffolk but of course, more than that I look forward to looking more closely at the information he has given us.”

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