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Take these broken wings: Injured cuckoo to be jetted south for winter
A cuckoo found close to death in a Tolworth garden is being flown on a one-way flight to Italy tomorrow.
Idemili was taken to the Wildlife Aid Foundation's animal hospital in Leatherhead for emergency treatment after she was attacked by other birds and missed the chance to fly south for the winter.
But British Airways agreed to fly her out on one of their passenger planes after her broken wing healed.
Lucy Kells, who will accompany Idemili on her trip, said: "They are such special birds and it has been an honour and privilege to have looked after her.
"She was in a very bad state when she came to us. The wet weather has meant it has been a very tough year for cuckoos.”
A lack of butterflies this summer had led to a dearth of caterpillars, cuckoos’ main food.
Miss Kells said: “She was very weak and that is most likely why she came under attack because when birds spot a weakness they exploit it.
"I have become incredibly attached to her. It is the first time I have ever seen one in real life but I am glad the work we have done has allowed her to get home.”
Cuckoos arrive in the UK in spring to breed and lay eggs, then travel back to Africa with their chicks in July.
The breed is a red listed species, meaning it is highly endangered, with an estimated 65% decline in numbers since 1980, according to the British Trust for Ornithology.
The animal hospital’s director Simon Cowell MBE said: "The cuckoo’s very survival is at risk, and over half of the breeding cuckoos have been lost in the last 25 years, devastating the cuckoo population and making them one of the UK's fastest declining migrant birds."
You can track Idemili as she makes her way home by visiting bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking