Wildlife By Jon Ivan-Duke

Are Bookies Cuckoo To Bet On Bird Race?

There are the usual betting markets - racing, football, even Big Brother – but have you ever heard of cuckoo betting?

Well, you have now. For the very first time, William Hill are opening betting on the migration of cuckoos, which they are calling The Great Cuckoo Race’.

The epic journey sees the cuckoos fly from West Africa, crossing over jungle, the Sahara Desert, the Mediterranean Sea, continental Europe and the English Channel before making it back to the UK.

One of the world’s biggest bookmakers William Hill have joined forces with the British Trust For Ornithology (BTO) to raise awareness about the plight of the cuckoo and the importance of protecting them.

Chris Packham is the President of the BTO and has ‘Chris The Cuckoo’ named after him:

“Migration is a game of life and death . And for our Cuckoos it’s about the survival of their species, they’re in critical decline , so every bird that makes it back is a real bonus. Obviously I’m rooting for Chris who is the veteran in the field, you could say he is the Tony Adams of Cuckoos Utd”.

Using state of the art tracking, which can be followed live on the BTO website (http://bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking), William Hill are betting on which cuckoo will make it back to the UK first. The cuckoos are just beginning their migration back to the UK from Africa.

And the winner in 2013, David, is this year’s favourite at odds of 2/1.

William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke: “This betting market stands on a wing and a prayer – literally. Every time the cuckoo makes this perilous journey, it is the ultimate gamble of life and death, with many not making it back to these shores. While it’s a bit of fun to create these sort of odds, we hope it raises awareness about the plight of the cuckoo.”

In 2014, Chris the Cuckoo (named after Chris Packham) was the second bird to arrive back in the UK, five days behind the leader, Skinner – but this year, Chris is an outsider to win at odds of 33/1, while Skinner is lost in the jungles of Africa and hasn’t registered a signal for many weeks.

Since tracking started in 2011, 17 birds that have been tagged are still active, but 33 have either perished or been lost.

Dr Andy Clements, CEO at the BTO, said: “William Hill's initiative to support BTO Cuckoo tracking will help raise the profile of the incredible journeys our Cuckoos make from the Congo rainforest to their breeding grounds in the UK. Any one of these amazing birds could be the first to signal spring's arrival in the UK - it could be yours! We hope many organisations and individuals back our birds."

William Hill Betting Odds - The Great Cuckoo Race:

2/1 Favourite David (1st in 2013, but plum last in 2014 – in a great position to replicate his success from 2013)

4/1                  Emsworthy (Newly tagged this year and good chance of winning)

4/1                  Jake (Newly tagged this year and good chance of winning)

5/1                  Hennah (Quick off the mark and not far behind the leader)

8/1                  Ash (Quick off the mark and not far behind the leader)

8/1                  Derek (Second-last home in 2014, but making great progress this year)

14/1                Livingstone (Joint 5th last year and chasing the leaders)

20/1                Dudley (Newly tagged this year and currently in mid-division)

20/1                Stanley (Newly tagged this year and currently in mid-division)

33/1                Chris (Named after Chris Packham, 2nd in 2014 and the longest surviving tagged cuckoo)

50/1                Chester (Newly tagged bird this year, but struggling near the back of the pack)

66/1                Fred (Newly tagged bird, lagging behind in last position in the pack)

100/1              BB (Joint 3rd last year and 2nd in 2013, but currently lost in the jungle)

100/1              Peter (Newly tagged bird, but currently lost in the jungle)

100/1              Skinner (Won the race in 2014, but currently lost in the jungle)

100/1              Waller (Joint 5th last year, but currently lost in the jungle)

100/1              Whortle (Joint 3rd last year, but currently lost in the jungle)

 

http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb