There’s just something magical about the sound of a cuckoo bird. Its ‘coo’ delights and warms us, and stirs within us a pleasant nostalgia. But how did the cuckoo’s call for marking the hour come to pass?
The answer is simple. The common cuckoo, native to Europe and from whom the sound of the cuckoo clock derives, return from their migration to Africa at the beginning of spring. Their song has long signaled the passing of winter and the arrival of spring. Thus the association between the cuckoo’s call, the changing of the seasons and time passing.
The cuckoo bird’s cultural significance in Europe goes beyond seasons and time. In fact, the cuckoo’s beautiful voice has inspired several composers, some of whom have referenced it in their music, including Edmund Angerer in the Toy Symphony and Beethoven in his Symphony No. 6. Also, in some cultures, the cuckoo’s song can be a harbinger of good luck. For instance, in Switzerland, it is said that when you hear a cuckoo bird’s first call in spring, you should touch coins in your pocket, for by doing so, you will bring good fortune upon yourself for the rest of the year.