Our new guide to the cuckoos of the world has just come off the press. The first authors’ copies have arrived, and the title will hit the bookshops in June 2012. Many years in the making, the primary task of this lab was to collate and produce the maps of cuckoo distributions. We assembled a database of more than half a million records of cuckoos, from museum collections, online databases, the literature, birding trip reports, and personal communication from a range of intrepid birders around the world. After a lengthy process of verification and identifying co-ordinates where these did not accompany the original data (driven in the last few months of the work by Cassandra Taylor and Stephanie Kerr), the key task was to determine how to represent the complexity of a species’ geographic distribution in a simple colour map. There are many ways to do this, ranging from complex modelling exercises to simple representations of species’ limits using polygons (see our Fuller et al. 2008 paper on this issue in Journal of Applied Ecology).
Given the uncertainty associated with many species’ distributions, we opted for a simple manual representation of species’ distributions for the mapping exercise, and we hope you enjoy the result. You can see the maps with all their original underpinning records here.