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Dideric Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius Scientific name definitions

Robert B. Payne and Arnau Bonan
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated July 4, 2013

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Editor's Note: This is a shorter format account, originally published in HBW Alive. Please consider contributing your expertise to update and expand this account.

Identification

19 cm; 32 g. Adult male glossy bronze-green above, white supercilium broadest behind eye, white spots on wings and tail sides; white below , flanks barred green; eye-ring red, iris red, bill black, feet grey. Female often duller, some rufous above, throat usually washed buff, breast often lightly streaked, eye-ring brown, iris hazel-brown to grey (sometimes with dark flecks). Juvenile dull green or bright rufous (or both) above, with spots (not streaks) on breast, barred flanks, iris brown, bill red.

Systematics History

Thought to be part of a clade that contains also C. flavigularis, C. klaas and C. cupreus (1). Possible shorter-winged race, chrysochlorus, has been described as resident in W Africa along with long-winged birds, but short-winged individuals occur also in S Africa. Monotypic.

Subspecies

Monotypic.

Distribution

Sub-Saharan Africa; also S Arabia.

Habitat

Semi-arid thorn scrub, acacia savanna , open woodlands , and edge of marshland habitat; locally also in gardens, e.g. in Douala, Cameroon; in semi-arid regions occurs around water, often near weaver colonies, where it is chased by the nesting weavers. Sea-level to c. 2000 m, generally below 1200 m.

Movement

Resident in low-latitude tropics; also an intra-African migrant, seasonal in N and S of range. The long-winged individuals in W Africa are possibly non-breeding migrants from S Africa, but no ringing recoveries or other positive evidence of two morphologically distinct populations are known. In S Arabia, appears as a summer visitor, e.g. in Oman May–Nov. In N Senegal a seasonal visitor in the rains, but present all year in the S; in Gambia Jun–Nov; in Ghana occurs mainly in wet season, a seasonal visitor in the N; in N Nigeria present during rains May–Oct, then migrates S for the dry season; in Sudan a breeding visitor in rains, except resident in extreme S; in Kenya a wet-season visitor in dry areas; in Malawi, most are present and sing Oct–Mar, though a few are observed in other months as well. In Sierra Leone, after breeding many birds withdraw to forest canopy where recorded Nov–Apr, and from late Feb to late Mar species hardly recorded outside forest; local movements probably correlated with caterpillar abundance. In Gabon it appears in savannas as a non-breeding visitor from the Sahel in Jan–Feb, and is a local resident at all seasons around weaver colonies. Accidental in Cyprus and Israel.

Diet and Foraging

Insects , mainly caterpillars , also grasshoppers, termites, beetles, adult Lepidoptera, eggs of host birds; seeds. Forages mostly in canopy; may also seek food on ground, e.g. in W Africa.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Male has clear emphatic whistle , first notes often rising in pitch, “dee-dee-dee-diederik”, also gives wavering “weahweah­weahweah” when advertising with a caterpillar to female; female call “deah deah deah...”.

Breeding

Breeds with rains, lays Aug–Oct in N Senegal, Aug–Nov in Sierra Leone, Sept–Oct in W Mali, Mar–Jul in coastal districts of Ghana, mainly Apr–Sept in N Nigeria, Oct–Apr in Malawi, in both short rains (Apr–May) and long rains (Nov–Jan) at semi-arid L Baringo in Kenya, in South Africa from late Oct to mid Jan in E Cape. Brood-parasitic: hosts mainly weavers (Ploceus), bishops (Euplectes) and sparrows (Passer), others include wagtails (Motacilla); more than one female may use a single tree in a weaver colony. Eggs variable, white, greenish or blue, unspotted or spotted, often match colour and pattern of host's; 21 x 15 mm; incubation 12 days. Hatchling naked, skin pink, darkening to blackish, bill orange to red, gape red; when 2 days old evicts host's eggs and young; fledges in 19–21 days, remaining with foster parents for 3 more weeks.

Not globally threatened. Generally common throughout much of its expansive range in fair variety of habitats, often quite heavily humanized; frequently fairly conspicuous due to its characteristic voice, and seen especially around colonial nesting ploceids.

Distribution of the Dideric Cuckoo
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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Dideric Cuckoo

Recommended Citation

Payne, R. B. and A. Bonan (2020). Dideric Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx caprius), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.didcuc1.01