Cuckoo Festival

Wicken Fen - Cuckoo in flight

The cuckoo population has declined by a worrying 60 percent in the last 30 years, but thankfully Wicken Fen remains one of their strongholds.

The European cuckoo is about the size of a dove and both sexes have bluey-grey backs and heads, with brownish white barred chests. Throughout the breeding season male cuckoos can be seen perched prominently in the tree tops, tail cocked and wings drooped calling to attract a mate. Females have a distinctive 'bubbling call'.

May is the perfect time of year for a walk at Wicken Fen to hear the cuckoos call.  They can be heard from many of our walks and trails, ask our staff in the visitor centre on arrival where the best places to hear cuckoo can be found. 

As part of the festival we will be offering ranger walks from the visitor centre to hear the cuckoos and other spring warblers on the nature reserve.  You can also find out more from our rangers on one of our daily boat trips along the Wicken Lode.

We also have some special events this year to celebrate the cuckoo and other songbirds.  Our Cuckoo and Warblers Walk on Saturday 26th May with Professor Nick Davies will give you an unrivalled insight into the world of the cuckoo with a world leading expert. (Sorry -  This event has now SOLD OUT. However, Prof. Davies book - ‘Cuckoo, cheating by nature’ is on sale in our bookshop. It charts the evolutionary battle between cuckoos and their unwitting host birds, focussing on the Wicken Fen reed warblers; it is a fascinating read, and through it all shines Nick’s love of Wicken Fen.

We also have a selection of Richard Nicolls’s fabulous wildlife photographs on display in our Learning Centre over the Bank Holiday weekend, Saturday 26th - Monday 28th May. Richard has captured prize-winning images of the Wicken wildlife over the last few years, including studies of cuckoos and reed warblers, short-eared owls and more. We have mounted prints for sale in the shop too!

Families can get involved too, with our new in the Cuckoos Calling event on Thursday 31st May.