Cuckoo

Irish Name: Cuach
Scientific name: Cuculus canorus
Bird Family: Cuckoo
green
Conservation status

Status

Widespread summer visitor to Ireland from April to August.

Identification

Despite its obvious song, relatively infrequently seen. In flight, can be mistaken for a bird of prey such as Sparrowhawk, but has rapid wingbeats below the horizontal plane - ie. the wings are not raised above the body. Adult male Cuckoos are a uniform grey on the head, neck, back, wings and tail. The underparts are white with black barring. Adult females can appear in one of two forms. The so-called grey-morph resembles the adult male plumage, but has throat and breast barred black and white with yellowish wash. The rufous-morph has the grey replaced by rufous, with strong black barring on the wings, back and tail. Juvenile Cuckoos resemble the female rufous-morph, but are darker brown above.

Voice

The song is probably one of the most recognisable and well-known of all Irish bird species. The male gives a distinctive “wuck-oo”, which is occasionally doubled “wuck-uck-ooo”. The female has a distinctive bubbling “pupupupu”. The song period is late April to late June.

Diet

Mainly caterpillars and other insects.

Breeding

Widespread in Ireland, favouring open areas which hold their main Irish host species – Meadow Pipit. Has a remarkable breeding biology unlike any other Irish breeding species.

Wintering

Cuckoos winter in central and southern Africa

Monitored by

Countryside Bird Survey

Similar Species

Sparrowhawk

Irish Name:
Spioróg
Scientific name:
Accipiter nisus
Bird Family:
Raptors