What do Dartmoor Cuckoos eat?

Posted July 31st, 2017 at 12:52 am in Conservation

A hungry Dartmoor Cuckoo, photographed by Charles Tyler 

Cuckoos across Devon have experienced a significant decline over the past few decades and it's likely that there are now no breeding birds anywhere except Dartmoor and Exmoor. On the moors, Cuckoos that parasitise Meadow Pipits are still holding on but those that used to lay their eggs in Dunnock's nests seem to have disappeared.

One explanation might be the lack of food for returning Cuckoos, particularly big hairy caterpillars such as those of Drinker Moth and Fox Moth. The best way of telling what Cuckoos eat is by collecting faecal samples from adult and juvenile Cuckoos and testing the DNA. But that's easier said than done. To find out just how tricky it is, read Stuart Croft's fascinating blog on the RSPB website here: