Cuckow, the Common, or Cuculus canorus, L. is a native of Africa, whence it visits this country, about the middle of April, and continues here till the end of June, or beginning of July It is about 14 inches in length, 25 in breadth, and weighs generally about 5 ounces.
This is, perhaps, the most remarkable of the feathered tribe; as it never pairs, nor hatches its own young, but drops one of its eggs in the nests of different birds, especially those of the hedge-sparrow. As soon as the eggs are hatched, the young cuckow, with his broad hollow back, turns out the other eggs, as well as the young sparrows. This inimical conduct is analogous to what daily happens in human life; but it is now ascertained, that the cuckow does not ungratefully destroy its foster-parent; on the contrary, it soon leaves the nest, as its growth is uncommonly rapid, and its appetite extremely voracious, its food consisting almost entirely of animal substances, such as flies, beetles, snails, grasshoppers, catter-pillars, etc. This bird may be, and frequently is, brought up tame, so as to become domesticated. In this state, it will eat bread, milk, fruit, insects, eggs, and flesh, whether dressed or raw. When fat, it is esteemed by epicures as a delicious morsel, being little inferior to the land-rail.
Although Naturalists have formed various conje6tures, to account for the peculiar habit of the cuckow, in abandoning its own eggs, yet, we think, such practice is far from being as unnatural as it has been commonly stigmatized. This sagacious creature lays her eggs at intervals of six or eight days; and, therefore, instinctively deposits them in the nests of other birds, because no fowl could support it-self for so many weeks, while brooding, nor would it be possible for the cuckow to maintain her voracious offspring.