Cuckoo hitches lift on a plane after missing migration

by Rhiannon James

credit: The Wildlife Aid Foundation

A cuckoo that has spent the last month recovering from terrible injuries hopped on a BA flight from Britain to Italy this morning to catch up with her fellow birds who have already started their journey south for the winter.

The female bird, called Idemili, was found close to death in a garden in Surrey last month and was taken to Wildlife Aid Foundation’s (WAF) veterinary hospital for emergency treatment.

Now recovered from her injuries, which included a wounded wing, a badly-pecked head and a closed eye after she was attacked by other birds, she flew to Turin in the cabin of a BA 747 this morning. She will be released tomorrow to join her friends on their southward migration to Africa.

Idemili was on the way to becoming a celebrity before she was injured as she was the only female cuckoo to be fitted with a satellite-tracking device by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) as part of a project to learn more about these endangered birds.

“The cuckoo is a red-listed species, which means that its very survival is at risk. Over half of the breeding cuckoos have been lost in the last 25 years, devastating the cuckoo population and making them one of the UK’s fastest-declining migrant birds,” said WAF director Simon Cowell who, along with fellow conservationist Virginia McKenna of Born Free, masterminded Idemili’s journey to Italy.

The BTO decided not to replace Idemili’s tag following her recovery but you can track the other cuckoos involved in the project at

For more information about the Wildlife Aid Foundation, visit




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