The Mongolia Cuckoo Project

Welcome to the Mongolia Cuckoo Project!

From 4-8 June 2019, five cuckoos – one Oriental Cuckoo and four Common Cuckoos – were fitted with transmitters around Khurkh Bird Banding Center in northern Mongolia.  The birds will be named by local schools who will follow “their” birds to learn about the migration route and wintering grounds of these iconic birds.

You can follow them, too, by checking this page and by following @BirdingBeijing on Twitter.

The Mongolia Cuckoo Project is a joint initiative by the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center (WSCC) of Mongolia and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), facilitated by Birding Beijing and generously supported by the Oriental Bird Club and Mr Dick Newell.

The Project Team – including Chris Hewson (BTO), Lyndon Kearsley, Dick Newell and Terry Townshend – is grateful to WSCC for making the arrangements to visit Khurkh Bird Banding Center and for their invaluable support.  We are particularly indebted to Nyambayar Batbayar, Batmunkh Davaasuren and Tuvshinjargal Erdenechimeg.

Introducing the five Mongolian Cuckoos:

Cuckoo 1

Mongolian name: нүүдэлчин

English translation: Nomad

Species: Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus optatus)

Sex: male


Cuckoo 2

Mongolian name: Хурх

English translation: (Captain) Khurkhboldly going where no cuckoo has gone before…

Species: Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Sex: male


Cuckoo 3

Mongolian name: намжаа (NAMJAA)

English translation: Namjaa is the name of a storyteller in Mongolian folklore

Species: Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Sex: male


Cuckoo 4

Mongolian name: Баян (BAYAN)

English translation: Prosper

Species: Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Sex: male


Cuckoo 5

Mongolian name: Онон

English translation: Onon (after the local river)

Species: Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Sex: male

Latest News:

17 June 2019

The ORIENTAL CUCKOO continues to move northwest. He’s now 1,625km NNW of Khurkh and still going!

16 June 2019

The ORIENTAL CUCKOO is still on the move! Since being tagged in Khurkh, he has flown 1375 km NNW and is now in Krasnoyarsk on the southern edge of the Central Siberian Plateau!

10 June 2019

Whilst the four COMMON CUCKOOS remain in the general area of Khurkh Bird Banding Center, the ORIENTAL CUCKOO has already moved on and is now c250km to the NW on a heading towards Lake Baikal in Russia.

8 June 2019

Mission Accomplished!  After a remarkable three days in the field, already the fifth cuckoo has been fitted with a transmitter!  After the male ORIENTAL CUCKOO on day one, the next four to be fitted with a transmitter were all male COMMON CUCKOOS.  Here is a video of Tuvshi, manager of the Khurkh Bird Banding Center, releasing the fifth cuckoo.

7 June 2019

The Mongolia Project Team visits the local school in Khurkh to speak to students about the cuckoo tracking project and to ask them to nominate two names for the first two cuckoos.

The students chose “нүүдэлчин” (NOMAD) and “Онон(ONON) after the local river that runs through the town.

6 June 2019

The Mongolia Cuckoo Project Team catches and fits a transmitter to the first cuckoo, and it’s an ORIENTAL CUCKOO!  We believe this is the first time a transmitter has been fitted to this species, so it’ll be fascinating to see where it spends the summer and to discover the wintering grounds and migration route of this poorly known species.

The BTO’s Chris Hewson with the ORIENTAL CUCKOO after being fitted with a transmitter.

5 June 2019

The Mongolia Cuckoo Project Team arrives in Khurkh after an eight-hour drive from Ulan Bator.