Account navigation Account navigation
Welcome to Birds of the World!
You are currently viewing one of the free accounts available in our complimentary tour of Birds of the World. In this courtesy review, you can access all the life history articles and the multimedia galleries associated with this account.
For complete access to all accounts, a subscription is required.
Already a subscriber? Sign in
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.
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.
Sub-Saharan Africa; also S Arabia.
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.
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...”.
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.