An Cuach - Bealtaine’s Bird
How fortunate for us this May to hear the cuckoo's mating call in Brigit's Garden and the surrounding area, with its distinctive cuc-koo call. In fact one swished past my hair as I was having lunch outside the Garden Café, chasing another small bird.
These beautiful and elusive birds are very welcome from April onward as they indicate that Summer is here.
The elegant Cuckoo Flower or Lady's Smock arrives in our meadows around the same time as the cuckoo, the food source for the orange-tipped butterfly.
The female cuckoo can lay up to 22 eggs all in different nests. Yes - the vagabonds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, usually meadow pipits’, where the eggs are very similar. The cuckoo young are very intolerant of the other chicks or eggs and push them out. They are larger than the meadow pipits’ young and demand much more food with an ongoing chattering that can stress out parents. So much so, that it has been reported that other birds have helped the parents to feed the demanding young.
By July or August the adults are ready to fly back to Africa’s tropical climate, many to the Congo where they spend the remaining nine months of the year. The young instinctively follow a few weeks later.
An Cuach Traditions
In Ireland there are many traditions and folklore regarding an cuach. For example, if you hear the first cuckoo of the year and you have money in your pocket you will have money all year long! As the old poem goes.
“The cuckoo comes in April,
He sings his song in May,
By June he changes his tune and
Then he flies away.”
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