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The Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) (formerly European Cuckoo) is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis and the coucals.
This species is a widespread summer migrant to Europe and Asia, and winters in Africa. It is a brood parasite, which lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species, particularly of Dunnocks, Meadow Pipits, and Eurasian Reed Warblers.
The Common Cuckoo is a dove-sized bird, 32–34 centimetres (13–13 in) long (tail 13–15 cm) and wingspan 55–60 cm. It is greyish with a slender body and long tail and could be mistaken as a falcon in flight. There is also a rufous colour phase which occurs occasionally in adult females but more often in juveniles.
The cuckoo family gets its common name and genus name by onomatopoeia for the call of the male Common Cuckoo, usually given from an open perch, goo-ko. During the breeding season the male typically gives this call with intervals of 1–1.5 seconds, in groups of 10–20 with a rest of a few seconds between groups. The female has a loud bubbling call.
The common cuckoo is a brood parasite, which lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species, particularly of Dunnocks, Meadow Pipits, and Eurasian Reed Warblers.
At the appropriate moment, the hen cuckoo flies down to the Reed Warblers' nest, pushes one Reed Warbler egg out of the nest, lays an egg and flies off. The whole process is achieved in only about 10 seconds.
A cuckoo chick methodically evicts all host progeny from host nests. It is a much larger bird than its hosts, and needs to monopolise the food supplied by the parents. The Cuckoo chick will roll the other eggs out of the nest by pushing them with its back over the edge. If the Reed Warbler's eggs hatch before the Cuckoo's egg, the Cuckoo chick will push the other chicks out of the nest in a similar way.
At 14 days old, the Cuckoo chicks are about three times the size of the adult Reed Warblers. The numerous and rapid hunger calls of the single cuckoo chick (which perfectly mimic the cries of a whole brood of warbler chicks), and to a lesser extent its coloured gape, encourage the host parents to bring more food.
Cuckoo chicks fledge after about 20–21 days after hatching, which is about twice as long as for Reed Warblers. If the hen cuckoo is out-of-phase with a clutch of Reed Warbler eggs, she will eat them all so that the hosts are forced to start another brood.
This behaviour was firstly observed and described by Aristotle and the combination of behaviour and anatomical adaptation by Edward Jenner, who was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society in 1788 for this work. It was first documented on film in 1922, by Edgar Chance and Oliver G Pike, in their film 'The Cuckoo's Secret'.
Female Cuckoos are divided into gentes - populations favouring a particular host species' nest and laying eggs which match those of that species in colour and pattern. The colour pattern is inherited from the female only, suggesting that it is carried on the sex-determining W chromosome (females are WZ, males ZZ). It is notable that most non-parasitic cuckoos lay white eggs, like most non-passerines other than ground nesters. The exception is in the case of the Dunnock, where the Common Cuckoo's egg has no resemblance to its hosts' blue eggs. This is thought to be because the Dunnock is a recent host, and has not yet acquired the ability to distinguish eggs. Male Cuckoos breed with females without regard to gens. This results in gene flow between the gentes and maintains a common gene pool for the species (except for the genes on the W chromosome).
The English name "cuckoo" come from the Old French cucu and it first appears about 1240 in the poem Sumer Is Icumen In - "Summer has come in / Loudly sing, Cuckoo!" in modern English.
In European culture
In Europe, hearing the call of the Cuckoo is regarded as the first harbinger of spring. Many local legends and traditions are based on this. In Scotland a number of Gowk Stones exist, sometimes associated with the arrival of the first cuckoo of spring. "Gowk" is an old name for Cuckoo in northern Britain derived from a harsh repeated "gowk" call the bird makes when excited.
The well-known cuckoo clock features a mechanical bird and is fitted with bellows and pipes which imitate the call of the common cuckoo.
Species: C. canorus
jusninasirun, bungbing, siggi, PaulLees, aruntp, marius-secan has marked this note useful
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Beautiful in flight capture, Durzan. The wings details are fabulous and nice blue sky in the background.
- [2011-07-08 16:56]
excellent capture in good lighting, nice blue sky as background and superb sharpness of the feathers and the eye.
the sight turn of the head is its another beauty.
well presented shot in expert hand.
- [2011-07-08 17:36]
Very nice capture of this beautiful bird in flight.Excellent sharpness and great POV! I love also the wonderful blue sky! Bravo! Well done! TFS
PS: thanks for visiting my gallery!
Excellent captured of this Common Cuckoo flying with precise timing! good sharpness details, lovely contrast against the sky,
Thanks for sharing and have a great Saturday,
- [2011-07-08 23:10]
Wonderful capture of this flight Cucko.A lovely sharp image with perfect exposure.
Nicely composed with good colour.Very good work indded.Best regards Siggi
- Medina (117)
- [2011-07-08 23:22]
wéne yek pir wxeşike, li ezman te ev pepuka wxeş zev kirî ye..sipas ji bo parékiriné:))
güzel bir uçar karesi ve banada kertik olan güzel bir tür:)
elinize sağlık selamlar,sevgiler:)
Very well captured action image here my friend, fabulous wing extension with lovely colours, good sharpness in the right area's superb lighting and a strong composition, Bravo! Durzan and have a nice weekend,
- [2011-07-09 1:14]
timely shot. great background. good sharpness.
- [2011-07-09 1:33]
Excellent photo of this Cuckoo in flight. Good sharness, details and natural colours. Very nice composition.
Ciao Durzan. Very good capture with the detailed bird against the blue BG.
Beautiful photo with very good timing, good composition and wonderful colours.
Good frozen photo capturing a special moment. regards yiannis
Great capture with superb colors and details. Very difficult to take a shot in flight.
- [2011-07-09 15:26]
Hi Durzan,very nice specie and spectacular wings position,great sharpness,colors and rich contrast whit the blue sky,i like it!Thanks for share,have a nice Sunday,Luciano