Cuckoo flies south...on BA!


Just a month after being found injured and unable to fly, Idemili the Cuckoo will be heading off to the sunshine of Italy — but having fallen so far behind her friends, she is getting a helping hand, or rather wing, from British Airways! The bird, found in a garden in Tolworth (Surrey) was taken to the Wildlife Aid Foundation's (WAF) veterinary hospital in Leatherhead for emergency treatment and she has remained there until now.

WAF director Simon Cowell MBE knew that the Cuckoo would be a long way behind the other Cuckoos flying south for the winter so, with help from fellow conservationist Virginia McKenna of Born Free, the search was on for an airline to fly the Cuckoo as far as Italy so that she could catch up with the others. And thanks to British Airways, arrangements have been made for the Cuckoo to be transported in the cabin of a 747 to Turin on Tuesday morning, in the company of WAF's vet nurse Lucy Kells. Once in Italy, Idemili will be released to join her friends on their southward migration to Africa. Simon Cowell explains: "Idemili is a very special Cuckoo. She is in fact the only female Cuckoo ever to have been fitted with a satellite tag by the British Trust for Ornithology. All other tagged Cuckoos are male. It was due to the tagging that WAF knew Idemili was the last [tagged individual] Cuckoo to leave [the British Isles], as all the other tagged Cuckoos had already migrated to warmer climes and were being tracked by satellite. The Cuckoo is a Red Listed species, which means that its very survival is at risk, and 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."

Idemili (Wildlife Aid Foundation).

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WAF's Lucy Kells adds: "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 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. We gave her antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, eye treatment and a vitamin boost to help her recover. She was found in the nick of time."

Editor's note: as we reported earlier, the decision has been taken not to tag Idemili for the rest of her journey.

Written by: Wildlife Aid Foundation