By Jonathan Willet
Published: May 08, 2015More by Jonathan
You have no doubt heard a Cuckoo call or certainly would recognise its call.
But did you know only the male bird Cuckoo’d? Wildlife expert and wilderness guide, Jonathan Willet gives an overview of this fantastic member of Scotland’s birdlife in this article, Scottish Wildlife: The amazing Cuckoo.
Where does the Cuckoo name come from?
This well-known, but rarely-seen bird, is about the size of a Collared Dove and looks a bit like a Sparrowhawk, more of which later. Its species name, Cuculus canorus means the melodious Cuckoo, which seems very apt to anyone who has heard their iconic song. All over Europe this birds name is imitative of its call. But why in Scots is it known as the Gowk? Well, it is all to do with the Vikings, who brought that name over. But again it is a call of the Cuckoo, just not a well-known one. One other call, which sounds like a “water-bubbling chuckle” is made by the female when a male is close by.
Where do they make their home?
Since Aristotle wrote about it, we have known that the Cuckoo does not build its own nest and lays its eggs in the nest of small birds, but what birds? In the UK about 80% of the Cuckoos lay their eggs in the nest of Meadow Pipits, Dunnocks or Reed Warblers. In Scotland mainly Meadow Pipits will be targeted.