Summary: Woodcut of cuckoo sitting on the branch of a tree, green background and darker green shapes suggest leaves.

Identification note: On cream paper. 14/100 in pencil in bottom left corner, AWSeaby in pencil in bottom right corner. On back 0638 and the word 'Cuckoo'.

Identification note: Perhaps the most celebrated indicator of spring’s arrival is the call of the cuckoo being heard once again. The traditional date for its arrival was 14 April and although in recent years one has occasionally been heard as early as January the vast majority do still appear from around that date onwards. Although rarely seen, the cuckoo’s distinctive song has inspired a great deal of folklore. It is the male that calls, usually from a high branch hidden in the leaf canopy as shown in Seaby’s print. The female waits for a nearby dunnock, reed warbler or meadow pipit to lay and then adds her own eggs to the nest. Once hatched the cuckoo ejects the other eggs and takes all the food its surrogate parents can provide. Since the 1980s cuckoo numbers have dropped by 65%, this relates in part to conditions at stopover points on its southward migration towards the Congo but also to the declining numbers of the caterpillars it eats when resident in Britain. While this might be a relief to its unwitting victims, its disappearance would end a centuries-long tradition of welcoming in the spring with the sound of the cuckoo’s call.

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