March 2014: One of the migrating cuckoos being tracked by the British Trust for Ornithology on its migration to and from sub-Saharan Africa has been located after a three-month silence. Tor, the cuckoo that was fitted with its tracking device in Dartmoor National Park last May had ‘gone dark’ and was feared dead.
Tor’s satellite signal, that transmits for 10 hours every couple of days to reveal the location of the bird and, occasionally, its body heat measurement, was last received on 4 December, at which time he was on the Gabon/Congo border. It is not unknown for the transmitters’ batteries to degrade or for the birds to be under dense cover for extended periods which prevents the devices’ solar panels from charging them up, but usually there is only a period of a week or two before they spring into life again.
In this case, Tor stayed under the radar for an unprecedented amount of time until he resurfaced in early March in the Central African Republic.
The BTO has been satellite-tracking cuckoos on their migration since 2011 in order to find out their important stop-over sites and wintering destinations to and from Africa and so discover why we have lost more than half of our breeding cuckoos in the past 25 years. Information from the project will help to form conservation strategies and initiate action.
To find out more about the project and follow the progress of this year’s cuckoos as they return to the UK, visit www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking
You can also sponsor a cuckoo and help finance the research at www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking/sponsor-cuckoo