Thursday, 28 May 2009

Has The Cuckoo Given Us The Bird?

Today‘s story is a sad one. The cuckoo has joined the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) "red list" of the UK's most threatened bird species.

The number of cuckoos has fallen by 37% in the last fifteen years and conservationists can’t put their finger on why this should have happened.

Andy Clements, director of the BTO, said: "A gap all of us will notice is the lack of the cuckoo's familiar song. Their decline is emblematic of downward trends in many long-distance migrants from Africa."

I too have noticed that my ’local’ cuckoo hasn’t returned in the last couple of years, although nothing has changed around here in that time (unless repainting the kitchen counts).

Cuckoos are known to lay their eggs in the nest of the dunnock, which are also in decline, although hereabouts they seem to be on the increase. As I write this, Mrs Dunnock is feeding her babies beneath my garden table.

Obviously something must have changed between North Africa and Essex, something that has upset the balance of nature. If the cause can be pinpointed then something may be able to be done by conservationists to redress the problem.

Until then, if our local cuckoo is reading this, come home, we miss you!

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