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A Coo for Belfast pupils as they win bid to name bird on satellite-tracked epic flight

By Linda Stewart

Published 12/09/2015

Coo the intrepid cuckoo is on his odyssey to Africa
Coo the intrepid cuckoo is on his odyssey to Africa

We've avidly followed the adventures of Chris the Cuckoo - and now it's the turn of Coo.

The male cuckoo, which is currently making its way south through Africa, has been named by pupils at a school in the Belfast Hills.

The P1 and P2 pupils at Ballymacward Primary School beat off competition from schools across the UK to name a cuckoo fitted with a satellite tag by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

They are now following his intrepid voyage via an online tracker, which reveals how Coo is making his way from the UK to his overwintering site in the Congo rainforest.

BTO says it is trying to discover why the UK has lost over two-thirds of its breeding cuckoos during the last 25 years by gleaning information on the routes they take to Africa.

Until recently scientists had no idea where cuckoos went in winter, with only one record dating back to the 1930s.

But since BTO started satellite tagging the birds five years ago, it has discovered that they split into two migration routes - one travelling down through Italy to cross the Sahara and the other crossing Spain into Morocco to join up in the Congo basin.

Last year thousands of viewers tuned into Springwatch to discover the progress of Chris the cuckoo, another UK bird that was tagged and released back into the wild.

Coo has now reached the southern edge of the Sahara desert in south eastern Chad, resting and feeding up for the next leg of his journey south.

The competition was run by EDF Energy's award-winning education programme, the Pod, which recently launched a new partnership with the BTO to help encourage more young people to study science and sustainability.

The BTO and EDF Energy are calling on schools across Northern Ireland to take part in a ground-breaking citizen science experiment to help understand how climate change is impacting on food availability for birds.

To take part in the BTO and EDF Energy's new citizen science activity What's Under Your feet?, please visit

To download information about the cuckoos, the importance of migration and lesson plans for What's Under Your Feet?, visit the POD at

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