The diederik cuckoo (Chrysococcyx caprius), formerly dideric cuckoo or didric cuckoo, and sometimes called Diederik's cuckoo, is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis, and the hoatzin.
The diederik cuckoo is a smallish cuckoo at 18 to 20 cm. Adult males are glossy green above with copper-sheened areas on the back and whitish underparts. They have a broken white eye-stripe and a short, green malar stripe. All remiges have three to four white spots on the inner vanes. The four green outer tail feathers are tipped white, and the outermost pair are spotted white on both vanes.
Females show more copper above, and have coppery barring on the flanks. The underparts are often washed brownish.
Juveniles have a red bill, streaky throat and a white wing-bar. They are more copper-coloured above and browner below than the females, and the flank markings are brown blotches.
The diederik cuckoo is a brood parasite. It lays a single egg mostly in the nests of weavers, especially the village weaver and the bishops in the genus Euplectes. For example, it has been recorded in red-collared widowbirds.
The diederik cuckoo takes a variety of insects and caterpillars. It is a noisy species, with the persistent and loud deed-deed-deed-deed-er-ick call from which it gets its name. Usually four clear, roughly identical, notes followed by a little twitter.
Distribution and habitat
It is a common resident breeder in sub-Saharan Africa which has been recorded as far north as Cyprus (1982). It is a short-distance seasonal migrant, moving with the rains. It is a solitary bird, found in open woodland, savanna and riverside bushes.
The genus name Chrysococcyx is Greek for gold cuckoo (χρυσός, κούκος) The specific name caprius is thought to be a misprint for either cuprea (coppery) or capensis (of Cape of Good Hope). The English name is an onomatopoeic rendition of its call.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Chrysococcyx caprius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- "ENGLISH NAME UPDATES – IOC Version 2.9". IOC World Bird List. 10 July 2011. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
- Jobling, James A (1991). A Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. OUP. ISBN 0 19 854634 3.
- Birds of The Gambia by Barlow, Wacher and Disley, ISBN 1-873403-32-1
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- Diederick cuckoo - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds.