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Home » Information » Diederik Cuckoo in Uganda (“Chrysococcyx caprius”)

Diederik Cuckoo in Uganda (“Chrysococcyx caprius”)

Diederik Cuckoo

What to Know About the Diederik Cuckoo in Uganda?

The Diederik Cuckoo is a member of the subfamily Cuculinae within the large family Cuculidae. This subfamily includes the Old World parasitic cuckoos.

The name “diederik” is an approximate rendition of the loud, persistent “deed-deed-deed-er-ick” call of the territorial male.

It frequents woodlands, savannas, grasslands and suburban gardens, and may occur near water. It is often seen close to weaver’s colonies.

It is found in sub-Saharan Africa specifically in Uganda`s Murchison falls national park. The Diederik Cuckoo is usually common throughout the wide range, and the species is not currently threatened.

It has a length 39cm and weight from 30-32g.

How Does Diederik Cuckoo in Uganda Look Like?

The Diederik Cuckoo adult male has green upperparts with a coppery sheen on the back. We can see several rows of white spots on the wing-coverts, also visible on closed wings.

On the tail, the outer rectrices are green with fairly small white spots. The underparts are white, including chin and throat. Breast sides and flanks are variably barred copper-brown.

On the green head, we can see some white marks on the crown. The white supercilium is conspicuous, but it is sometimes broken above the eye.

It extends from lores to ear-coverts. A narrow, green malar stripe contrasts with the white cheeks. The bill is black. The eyes are red, surrounded by red eye ring. Legs and feet are grey.

The adult female (not displayed) is duller than male, with more pronounced coppery sheen on the back. Chin and throat are washed brownish and the breast is often slightly streaked.

The wings and tail’s spots are buff (not white). On the head, the crown is more uniform than in male. She has mostly brown to grey eyes, surrounded by brown eye ring.

The juvenile resembles female. It has dull green to bright rufous upperparts. On the buffy-brown underparts, the breast is spotted (not streaked) and the flanks are barred.

The bill may appear coral-red in good light. The eyes are brown. The eyebrow is less visible than in adults.

How Does Diederik Cuckoo in Uganda Sing and Make Calls?

The Diederik Cuckoo utters a loud, plaintive “dee-dee-dee-dee-er-ick” giving the bird its name. This song is repeated over and over again with variable number of “dee”.

The first two syllables are slower than the following notes. This song is given by the territorial male while declaring its territory from treetops.

The female may answer with a “deea-deea-deea”. Like most Cuculidae, the Diederik Cuckoo is more often heard than seen!

How does Diederik Cuckoo in Uganda Breed?

The Diederik Cuckoo breeds during the wet season. Male and female perform distinct feeding behavior that is part of courtship.

To attract a female, the male sings and then, it catches a caterpillar for her. Both adults engage in displays, a dance during which they bob their partially spread wings up and down.

The male passes the caterpillar to the female and during several seconds, if she accepts the gift, both birds hold one end of the prey. This behavior usually occurs prior to copulation.

How does Diederik Cuckoo in Uganda Reproduce?

The laying varies depending on the range (April/May and November/January in Uganda).
It is a brood parasite, and the usual hosts are mainly weavers (Ploceus), bishops (Euplectes) and sparrows (Passer).

The female lays her egg in the host nest, but first, she destroys any eggs or chicks before laying her own egg.

When she leaves the nest-site, she is usually mobbed and chased by the hosts. The cuckoo’s eggs are white or blue with variable brown spotting, and the host usually does not notice the exchange.

The incubation lasts about 12 days. At three days old, the cuckoo chick eats both eggs and chicks that were not in the nest when the female cuckoo laid her egg.

It remains at nest during 19-22 days. Then, it leaves the nest, but it still depends of the foster parents during three weeks more.

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