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Argos sheds light on migration of Cuckoos’ from Britain to Africa

Jan 8, 2012

A group of scientists from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) research institute have been alerted by the decline in population of cuckoos in Britain.
Over 50% of the birds migrating between Europe and Africa have disappeared over the past 25 years.

Thanks to the Argos satellite system and with the development of the 5g tags this species can now be tracked as they fly to Africa.

Tracking Cuckoos using small 5g satellite tags

To fully understand the causes of cuckoos decline it seems essential to know where they spend the large part of the year when they are not in Britain. But until very recently, it was difficult to track this small bird species over long distances.

In May and June 2011, the BTO research institute and its volunteers equipped five cuckoos with brand new 5g Argos satellite tags (Microwave Telemetry) to track their movements from breeding grounds in East Anglia to their winter quarters in Africa.

5 different itineraries to the same destination

Thanks to the satellite tracking, the five cuckoos were seen crossing the Sahara. Each bird opted for a different trajectory but all ended up in the Congo Rainforest.

This valuable information should help scientists at BTO find a response to the declining population of the British cuckoo.