The cuckoo chick

Title and year
The cuckoo chick, installed 1986 


Gunnar Westman, 1915-1985

The school Fladhøjskolen, Skovbrynet 2, Rødekro


When the school children at Fladhøjskolen play around Gunnar Westman’s bronze sculpture The cuckoo chick, they probably give no thought to the intriguing natural phenomenon it portrays. We all know the story of the cuckoo bird, which secretly lays its egg in the nest of a pair of much smaller host birds. As soon as the cuckoo’s egg hatches, the baby intruder disposes of all the other eggs by pushing them over the edge.

This brutal reality is easily forgotten as one looks at Westman’s sculpture, which portrays a diligent, nurturing adult host bird pushing food into the wide-open beak of a cuckoo chick twice its size. But there is no danger here. The birds balance calmly on an axis that passes up through a bronze pedestal and ends precisely where the host bird perches on the chick’s back. The bronze surface is smooth and rounded, pleasant to the touch.

This figure by Gunnar Westman is so popular that he has a good handful of cuckoo chicks spread across Denmark.