Cuckoo flown to Italy for migration 'catch-up'

The injured cuckoo Staff at a wildlife centre in Surrey say Idemili had been found "in the nick of time"

A cuckoo found badly injured in a garden and nursed back to health in Surrey has flown to Italy - by plane.

The bird was transported in a British Airways 737 to Turin to catch up with other cuckoos who have already begun the long winter migration to Africa.

She was found in Tolworth, south-west London, with a wounded wing, an injured head and infested with parasites.

A nurse from Leatherhead's Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) travelled with the bird, named Idemili.

WAF director Simon Cowell said she had been found two weeks ago and was the only female ever fitted with a satellite tag by the British Trust for Ornithology.

'Red listed'

'Masters of deception'

Common cuckoo (Image: photolibrary.com)

Cuckoos are brood parasites. In the UK, they lay eggs in the nests of dunnocks, reed warblers and meadow pipits. Once hatched, the chick ejects the legitimate occupants and then gets fed by its unsuspecting foster parents.

"All other tagged cuckoos are male. It was due to the tagging that WAF knew Idemili was the last cuckoo to leave England, as all the other tagged cuckoos had already migrated to warmer climes and were being tracked by satellite," he said.

WAF veterinary nurse Lucy Kells, who travelled with the bird, said she was found "in the nick of time".

"Poor little Idemili was in a very bad way when she came to us. She had been attacked by other birds and had sustained wounds to one of her wings," she said.

"She also had a badly pecked head, was infested with parasites and one of her eyes had closed due to a mixture of her dehydrated state, bruising from the other bird attack and underlying infection."

Half of the UK's breeding cuckoos have been lost in the past 25 years, making them one of the country's fastest declining migrant birds.

The species is "red listed", meaning its survival is at risk.

Idemili was named by staff at Essex and Suffolk Water after a river goddess in Nigeria, where she and other cuckoos gathered last winter.

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