PJ the cuckoo returns to his breeding grounds in Suffolk after a staggering 50,000-mile-journey
A cuckoo called PJ has finally returned home to his breeding grounds in Suffolk after completing his fifth migration and taking his total mileage to a staggering 50,000 miles.
In 2016, he was caught and fitted with a satellite tag which lets scientists track his movements.
Like all cuckoos – famed as the harbinger of spring – he spends the winter in the warmth of Africa and migrates to reach Britain in April to breed.
The tracker shows that PJ has now arrived in Suffolk, making him a record breaker in the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) project which has seen dozens of cuckoos fitted with tags since 2011.
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A cuckoo called PJ has finally returned home to his breeding grounds in Suffolk after completing a staggering 50,000-mile-journey that saw him cross the Sahara desert ten times
PJ THE CUCKOO
Tagged: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 – 06:00
Tagging Location: King’s Forest, Suffolk, England
Age when found: Second-year
Wing Length (mm): 225
The BTO said: ‘His arrival back in King’s Forest, Suffolk, 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.’
Male cuckoos arrive in mid-April and are only here for a few weeks.
In June or July, after finding as many females as possible to mate with, the they fly back to Africa.
The tracker shows that PJ has now arrived in Suffolk, making him a record breaker in the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) project which has seen dozens of cuckoos fitted with tags since 2011
Then next April they’ll be back again to start the breeding cycle all over again.
The BTO said cuckoos are in decline, adding: ‘It’s a journey so full of hazards that it’s always a relief when they get back to Britain every spring, no matter how fast or slow.
‘These cuckoos have taught us so much about their lives, giving answers but also raising more questions as to what might be behind their decline.’
THE CUCKOO TRACKING PROJECT
The British Trust for Ornithology started tagging cuckoos in 2011 to understand why we’ve lost over half the number of cuckoos in the UK over the last 20 years.
The tags have revealed lots of vital information, such as how the different routes taken are linked to declines, and some of the pressures they face whilst on migration.
BTO is now looking more closely at how dependent they are on, and how much their migration is linked, to the drought-busting rains of the weather frontal system known as the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) as they move out of the Congo rainforest and begin to head back to the UK via West Africa.