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Cuckoo: Diderick Cuckoo

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Cuckoo: Diderick Cuckoo

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Wed Dec 17, 2008 1:16 pm

I recently observed the courtship referred to earlier in this thread and took some pix to illustrate the behaviour. Mr Diderick would catch a caterpillar and offer it to the begging female while he proudly cocks his tail and hangs his wings in the universal male courting pose. This male hit upon a horde of caterpillars, sometimes arriving with another offering before the paramour had swallowed the previous present.

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Diderick cuckoos feed almost exclusively on caterpillars and termites. The pair thus forms a bond that extends to a play of distraction and deceit where the male cuckoo would have the potential host of his brood committed to chase him from their nesting site. While so occupied and their nest unattended, the female sneaks into the host’s nest and quickly deposits an egg. They mainly use bishops, weavers, sparrows and wagtails to play host to their chicks, actually removing any eggs present in the host's nest, sometimes even eating it some distance away. The female can lay up to 24 eggs during a breeding season, one egg per host's nest.

The cuckoos must be careful in their quest... if caught by the robust bishops and weavers, they risk serious injury. Having ringed numerous Cape, lesser masked and Southern masked weavers, I can attest to their ability to deliver a serious bite… certainly powerful enough to even kill a cuckoo. This misfortune befalling the Diderick has been witnessed previously.

The newly hatched Diderick cuckoo evicts any competition from the nest when it is 3 days old. It stays in the nest for about 19-22 days, and out of the nest, the chick remains with its adopted parents for about 21 more days. The juvenile Diederik looks much different from its parents, sporting a bright red beak and pale blue eyes, as shown in a portrait in an earlier post. With age the bill will turn black and the eyes red (if it is a male bird) or brown (if it is a female bird), so you cannot really confuse male, female and juvenile birds.

About half of the cuckoo chicks survive to nest-leaving age, making it a very successful bird!
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Re: Cuckoo: Diderick Cuckoo

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:03 am

Have seen this Diderick Cuckoo at Transport dam right next to where I was parked. Is it still a juvenile, that was maybe raised by one of the weavers nesting there? We saw her on the exact same spot 3 days in a row

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Re: Cuckoo: Diderick Cuckoo

Unread postby Batmad » Tue Dec 23, 2008 9:34 pm

After searching my garden countiniously without any positive results i finnaly twitched this bird in Satara 8)
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Re: Cuckoo: Diderick Cuckoo

Unread postby oddesy » Wed Dec 24, 2008 8:37 am

Exactly the place i saw mine BM 8) At girivana dam there was a pair courting. We sat and watched them for a few min a few days. They were there every time we visited the dam. :D
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Re: Cuckoo: Diderick Cuckoo

Unread postby fuzzmonkey » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:01 am

Saw this one on the bridge outside Lower Sabie
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How does the cuckoo get into the nest

Unread postby bondm » Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:26 pm

Hi all,
I took this picture in Satara camp a couple of years ago but the Diederik cuckoo appears to be too big to actually get inside the weavers nest. Does it carry it's egg to the nest and then simply swop it for a weavers egg? It all happened so quickly and it never actually got any farther into the nest than shown Image - Of course the two weavers on it's back didn't make the task any easier.
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Re: How does the cuckoo get into the nest

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:46 pm

Great shot! :clap:
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Re: How does the cuckoo get into the nest

Unread postby mountainview » Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:31 am

Hi bondm

I once read an article [with photos], in Custos magazine, about a cuckoo being woven into the entrance of a weavers nest of a large colony in a Camelthorn tree in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park [now the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park].

If I remember correctly the cuckoo got caught in the entrance and could not extract itself in time before the weavers wove it in so that it was impossible for it to escape.
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Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Scottm » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:29 pm

What about these two, both taken in Kruger, Sunset Dam, December. Poor Pics, but too far to get better ones. (anybody got a 400mm f2.4 to donate? :D )

Both look like juv Cuckoo's of some sort, but I may be completely off the mark.

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:58 pm

Hi Scott.... :D was your first pic taken at Sunset Dam by any chance???!

Looks like Diederik Cuckoo to me...... :huh:
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Scottm » Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:55 pm

Rusty, the first was definitely taken at Sunset Dam.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:10 pm

Haha :D I think I can even tell which tree your cuckoo was in.....Seen it perched on the same branch 3 consecutive summers in Kruger.....Must come back to irritate the same weaver colony yearly. :twisted:
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Re: How does the cuckoo get into the nest

Unread postby bondm » Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:56 pm

Hi Mountainview,
Great story - I'll try and remember that one. Thanks.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Cherries » Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:44 pm

This little fellow has so many markings on him, it should be dead easy to ident him. :doh: :doh: I just managed through bushes to catch a couple of photos with lots of cropping. Taken at Vredefort Dome outside Parys this morning.

I have paged my book till it is dog eared. :wall: (Maybe I am just too tired to think anymore - it's been a l-o-n-g day.... )

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Batmad » Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:27 pm

Looks like a Juv Klaases Cuckoo
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