Cuckoo - Hebridean Birds Sightings

Western Isles Birds - Cuckoo - A dove sized bird. ummer visitors who are kown to be parasites as they lay their eggs in other birds nests - especially meadow pipits and dunnocks.

As there are lots of meadow pipits here in The Westerern Isles. Perhaps this is why we hear so many cuckoos.

They are actually on the RSPB's "Red List" as recent populations are declining.
Robin -  Western Isles Bird Sightings
Bird Overview - Cuckoos
Family
Cuculidae - Cuckoos
Latin name
Cuculus canorus

 Population
Declining - On RSPB's Red List - 2014


Similar Species
Collared Dove
Sparrowhawk
Description
Cuckoos have a sleek body - pointed wings and long tails - alittle like a kesterl really.

These birds have blue grey upper parts, head and chest with dark barred white under parts.

Both sexes have very similar appearances though the upper parts of the males are bluish to gray, and their white bellies are intersected with dark lines.

Some females may look like males, except that they have buff colored breast with dark lines. Other types of females are reddish brown or covered with dark bars completely. Young cuckoos are slate-gray and reddish brown in color. and the young are brown

Adult cuckoos arrive in late March or April and depart in July or August, with young birds leaving a month or so later.


Size
Cuckoos are birds of the medium size. They can reach 12.6 to 14.1 inches in length and weight up to 2.1 ounces.
Habitat
Cuckoos are solitary birds - more often heard rather than seen. THeir familiar cuckoo call is said to herald the start of spring.

Food
These lovely birds seen in The Western Isles feed on insects especially hairy caterpillars. The cuckoos shake the toxins out of the caterpillars before eating the caterpillars.
Voice
"Cuck-oo, cuck-oo" - said to herald the start of spring. This sound is only made by the male birds, females have more of a bubbling sound like water running out.

Even thought the whole family is named by this unique sound, only one cuckoo species (Common cuckoo) is able to produce this sound. Other species communicate by producing different types of sounds.
Breeding
Cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other birds with precision timing. Once hatched, the chick ejects the legitimate occupants and then gets fed by its new and unsuspecting foster parents.

Female cuckoos lay one egg in each nest. She usually lays between 12 and 22 eggs per season (in 12 to 22 different nests). Female cuckoo will generally lay her eggs in a nest belonging to the same species of bird that reared her

Young cuckoos are very aggressive toward other chicks in the nest and they will often remove them from the nest as soon as they hatch. When they are several weeks old, young cuckoos are ready to fly to Africa along with their parents.
Misc. Info
There are over fifty species of cuckoos - though only two can be seen in Europe. The cuckoo spends over nine months of the year in Africa and it never sings whilst there at all!
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