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Conservation status: Red

The cuckoo is a dove-sized bird with blue grey upper parts, head and chest with dark barred white under parts. With their sleek body, long tail and pointed wings they are not unlike kestrels or sparrowhawks. Sexes are similar and the young are brown. They are summer visitors and well-known brood parasites, the females laying their eggs in the nests of other birds, especially meadow pipits, dunnocks and reed warblers. Their recent population decline makes this a Red List species.



Latin name

Cuculus canorus


Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Where to see them

Cuckoos can be seen throughout the UK, but are especially numerous in southern and central England.

When to see them

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

What they eat

Insects, especially hairy caterpillars.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-16,000 pairs--



In the UK
UK wide


David Farrow, Xeno-canto