When Onon took off above the rolling hills of the Khurkh valley in Mongolia last June, researchers had no idea if they would see him alive again. Along with one oriental cuckoo and three other common cuckoos, each fitted with a tiny tracking device, he was about to embark on an epic journey to southern Africa.
Last month, he was the only bird to return safely with his tracker intact.
“It’s an amazingly long migration,” says Chris Hewson, senior research ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology, who said Onon’s 26,000-kilometer round trip was one of the longest journeys recorded by any land bird.
Onon has not only amazed conservationists but gripped social media across the globe. As coronavirus lockdowns brought the world to a virtual standstill, fans followed online updates from the Mongolia