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Going Cuckoo

Namibia 2019

Cuckoos are just one of around 127 species of birds that make up the family Cuculidae. These birds are mostly tropical in distribution, but some species also breed in the temperate zones. Many species are parasitic breeders, laying their eggs in the nests of other species of birds. Species of the cuckoo family occupy a great diversity of habitats, ranging from desert to temperate and tropical forests. The Namibia stamps from 2019 feature four cuckoos, the Great Spotted on the Inland Registered Mail stamp, the Jacobin on the Registered Mail, the Diederik (Zone B) and the African (Postcard Rate).

Liberia 2019

This attractive Liberia stamp sheet shows Cuckooshrikes, a bird species in the family Campephagidae. Top left is the Blue Cuckooshrike, top right the Ghana Cuckooshrike, the bottom pair feature the male and female of the Red-shouldered species.

Some may find the above video a bit grisly!

The 1967 3F Rwanda stamp has a Red-chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius). It is a medium-sized bird found in Africa south of the Sahara.

When Radio Ljubljana began broadcasting in 1928, it quickly became an important cultural voice that spoke to the people of Slovenia in their own language. For many Europeans, however, it was “the station with the cuckoo.”

At the time, interval signals – short sequences of music or other sounds – were used by radio stations to identify themselves to listeners. Radio Ljubljana’s famous signal – the call of the cuckoo – was devised by the station’s brilliant chief engineer Marij Osana. Based on Osana’s idea, a technician named France Kramar constructed a simple device that generated the bird’s distinctive call. It was an inspired choice – cuckoos are common in Slovenia’s woods and their call is immediately recognisable.

In an era when radio stations were few in number and could be heard across Europe, the cuckoo became one of the most beloved radio signals anywhere. A few stations even imitated the cuckoo call, while many listeners wondered whether Radio Ljubljana had a live cuckoo in its studios.

Those who happened to visit Radio Ljubljana were treated to a unique sight: a taxidermied cuckoo perched in front of a microphone with eyes that glowed red when it sang. The stuffed animal was even featured in a 1933 edition of the UK-based magazine Wireless World. Because of the cuckoo’s popularity, one of the publication’s journalists visited the station and discovered the studio’s simple facilities, heated in the cold Slovenian winter by only a few small iron stoves. In a short article, the magazine introduced the small station with the cuckoo to readers who had long been captivated by the distinctive sound from what was then a provincial town in Central Europe. The stuffed cuckoo is long gone, but the distinctive cuckoo sound survives to this day. It can be heard on Radio Slovenia several times a day.

Grenada/Carriacou & Petite Martinique 2000

Above we have the Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo, a bird endemic to the island of Puerto Rico. There are four species of lizard-cuckoos which occur only on Caribbean islands.

The Belarus organisation “Ahova ptushak Batskaushchyny” (Protection of Homeland Birds) declared the common cuckoo the bird of the year 2014. There are logos of the global partnership of conservation organisations “BirdLife International” and the Belarus public organisation “Ahova ptushak Batskaushchyny” (APB) on the stamp.

Angola 2018

Finally, from the ‘Fauna of Angola’ stamp series, we have a stamp sheet with the African Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx cuprous) and the African Cuckoo (Cuculus gularis).

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