De cuculi itinere – About the cuckoo’s migration

Dionysius Silvanus omnibus sodalibus s.d.p.

 Cantus cuculi in Britannia initium semper designat veris. Sunt enim musicorum modorum scriptores qui eo cantu afflati musica nobis dederunt perpulchra, exempli causa Fredericus Delius anno 1912 p. Chr. n. (De cantum audiendo primi coccygis ineunte vere):

Quae aves multas per gentes vectae et multa per aequora in hanc frigidam insulam continuis imbribus vexatam perveniunt ut maritentur ovaque in alienis nidis edant. Sed unde et quo itinere? Nobis rogantibus periti responsum nuper dederunt:

Nam cuculi vel coccyges prope ingens flumen cui nomen Congo hiemant, deinde incredibili celeritate maria solitudinesque Africae occidentalis transvolant necnon fines Hispaniae Galliaeque ut apud Britannos aestivos dies tranquille degant. Non omnes – eheu! – ad locos uliginosos et virgultis obsitos Africae exeunte anno incolumes remigrant. Quo fit ut paullatim copia avium recens in Europa sit imminuta.

Opto vos bene valere omnes.

Dabam a.d. III Non. Mai. a.s.n. MMXII e Britannia.


Loose translation:

About the cuckoo’s journey.

The song of the cuckoo always marks the beginning of Spring in Britain. And there are composers who have been inspired by its song to give us beautiful music e.g. Delius in 1912, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring.

These birds fly ‘across many peoples and lands’ (= quotation from Catullus) to this cold, rainswept island to mate and lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. But where do they come from and by what route? Experts have now answered our question.

For cuckoos overwinter by the mighty River Congo, then fly with inceredible speed across the seas and deserts of Africa and Spain and France to pass quiet summer days among the Britons.

Alas! not all of them make it back to the jungles of Africa unscathed at the end of the year. Hence the recent diminution in their numbers in Europe.

Take care, all of you.

5th May 2012.



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