The 14th April is St. Tiburtius Day and is traditionally when you will hear the first cuckoo, as celebrated in Rudyard Kipling’s Cuckoo Song:
Warrant, Act and Summons, please,
For Spring to pass along here!
The cuckoo migrates north from Africa and the date of its arrival, although traditionally the 14th April, varies in different parts of the country.
The first sighting is often in the far South West, in the Isle of Scilly and then gradually moves northwards. In recent years the cuckoo has tended to arrive on average five days earlier than usual, likely due to climate change.
On hearing the first cuckoo in spring it is traditional to pen a letter to The Times, but you can also send your reports to us – we’d love to hear from you. Just let us know when and where you heard it.
Every year we get lots of people telling us they’ve heard cuckoos well before April. Even if the weather is mild cuckoos are very unlikely to have returned from Africa that early. So it’s probably a case of mistaken identity. If you think you’ve heard a cuckoo very early on check it’s not a collared dove.