Migrant cuckoo dubbed 'bravest traveler'

Zhang Jin China Plus Published: 2018-05-16 16:53:01
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A cuckoo which migrates across two continents has been dubbed "the bravest traveler" on social media, as birdwatchers expect her in Beijing, reports Beijing Youth Daily.

A screenshot of the Birding Beijing website shows Flappy and her journey routes between northeast Asia and southeast Africa. [Photo: China Plus]

A screenshot of the Birding Beijing website shows Flappy and her journey routes between northeast Asia and southeast Africa. [Photo: China Plus]

Flappy McFlapperson, a satellite-tagged cuckoo, has gone viral among Chinese netizens recently for her long journeys across Africa and Asia.

In her migration from 2016 to 2017, Flappy flied 26,000 kilometers and created a record of flying over 6,500 kilometers within 6 days.

Flappy is the last cuckoo being tracked in the Beijing Cuckoo Project, a joint effort by the Beijing Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (BWRRC), China Birdwatching Society (CBS), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Birding Beijing, which aims to discover the Beijing Cuckoos' migration route and where they spend winters.

Scientists fit satellite tags onto five cuckoos in Beijing in May 2016 and have received data on their whereabouts since then.

Two of the five cuckoos went back to Beijing last May, but after the signals from a male cuckoo's tag were lost in June, Flappy became the only one that is still being tracked.

It has been discovered that Flappy flies from northeast Asia every autumn across the Asian continent and the Arabian Sea, before stopping in southeast Africa where she spends the winter and starting her journey in the spring back towards northeast Asia to give birth.

The findings have surprised researchers, as the cuckoos fly much further than they expected.

Shi Yang, a project participant with BWRRC, said the data collection on the migration route of the Beijing Cuckoos has filled gaps in research data in China and that such basic data will be useful for further studies.

According to British birder Terry Townshend, one of the initiators of the Beijing Cuckoo Project working in the Chinese capital, Flappy is heading almost restlessly back to Beijing again and her route this year is even longer. She was spotted in Myanmar on Monday afternoon.

Flappy's journey has drawn attention and great interest from Chinese netizens and has triggered heated discussions. Many people touched by Flappy's experience have expressed their wishes to see more migrating cuckoos like Flappy.

As a response, Townshend said although there is no plan to track new cuckoos in Beijing this year, it is hoped that more cuckoos will be tracked from other places in China next year.

Flappy is expected to enter China from Yunnan Province and head north to Beijing. Her ultimate destination is estimated to be Mongolia, where she stayed last summer.

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