Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Obligate brood parasites

This week we have a baby in the garden. One morning while feeding the dogs on the patio, I heard a cheep-cheep-cheep. I rushed indoors, grabbed my camera and once outside, I followed the sound. I didn't have far to go. Perched on a branch of an exotic tree near the driveway was a juvenile Diderik Cuckoo. 
Diderik Cuckoo, juvenile

As I watched and photographed the bird, it puffed up its feathers. I knew the parents were nearby and hid myself in the shadows of the garden wall. 

The bird was big enough to fly from tree to tree. Here it perched on a shrub on my sidewalk

Not long and the parents arrived: a pair of Cape Sparrows! Several weeks ago I heard the adult Diderik Cuckoo calling: dee-dee-deederik. This was obviously when the cuckoo lay her egg in a Cape Sparrow's nest and left. This is what brood parasites do: they lay their egg in a host bird's nest and leave. The young hatches before sparrow's eggs and normally kicks these out of the nest. The host parents - in this case Cape Sparrows - don't know any better and raise this large bird as their own. I hope you get the idea in the video below:

Later that day I photographed the juvenile dozing in the sun on top of the shrub.
Diderik Cuckoo (juvenile)  dozing in the morning sun

While the youngster sat dozing in the sun, the female Cape Sparrow arrived on the same shrub. 

The next day I spotted it and the host parents through the dining room window. They were feeding "their"baby on an old rose bush.
The Cape Sparrow (female), Diderik Cuckoo, juvenile and Cape Sparrow (male) 

I'm linking my post to Wild Bird Wednesday herehere

Happy Wednesday to you all! 


  1. you have to wonder if they retain the familiarity after the cuckoo is grown and on its own. :)

  2. Those lazy Cuckoos. Amazing the sparrows can be fooled.

  3. Hello Jo, wonderful images of the cute Diderik Cuckoo and Cape Sparrow. I enjoyed the videos too. Have a happy day!

  4. HI Jo Wonderful to have these birds especially the Diderik breeding in the garden. Great to see the 2 videos.

  5. this is truly amazing, i have never heard of brood parasites and raising other birds babies. i love this story and the videos.

  6. Super pictures of the Cuckoo. Incredible birds.

  7. Such a fascinating post! Loved seeing these birds and learning their habits!

  8. That is a new bird for me. Thanks for sharing. You are really lucky to have been able to observe this. Cool!

  9. Very neat birds! We only get to see them sadly enough in the Zoo~


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo