Fun Diederik Cuckoo Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Nov 14, 2022 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Diederick cuckoo facts, female lays eggs in the nest of other birds

Have you ever heard about the lazy bird that does not build a nest of its own and lays eggs in some other bird's nest? Have you heard the noisy 'deed-deed-deed-deed-er-ick' call made by the secretive bird when you are out for an evening walk?

Yes, we are talking about the lazy and noisy diederik cuckoo (Chrysoccyx caprius), a native breeder of Sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula, an intra-African migrant.

French polymath Georges-Louis-Leclerc, Comte de Buffon described diederik cuckoos in 1780. Diederick cuckoos were decorated in hand-painted plates etched by Francois-Nicolas Martinet.

Unfortunately, neither of the two descriptions included the binomial name. The Dutch naturalist Pieter Boddaert gave the scientific name Calculus caprius in 1783, which was changed to Chrysococcyx caprius by German zoologist Friedrich Boie 1826.

The binomial name Chryxsococcyx caprius is derived from ancient Greek words kurusos which means gold and kokkux, meaning cuckoo, and the Latin word caprius meaning coppery. The common name diederik is taken from a South African language, the Afrikaans word diedrik.

To explore more cuckoo species, check our articles on the yellow-billed cuckoo and black-billed cuckoo.

Diederik Cuckoo Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a diederik cuckoo?

A diederik cuckoo (Chrysococcyx caprius) is a small bird, formerly known as dideric cuckoo or didric cuckoo in the order Cuculiformes. The diederik cuckoo is a small distant intra-African migrant associated with rains.

The female is a brood parasite laying eggs in the nest of other species of birds. The male is noisy, making calls that sound like his own name.

What class of animal does a diederik cuckoo belong to?

A diederik cuckoo (Chrysococcyx caprius), formerly called didric, belongs to the class of Aves.

How many diederik cuckoos are there in the world?

The exact number of diederik cuckoos is unknown, but they are familiar and widespread globally.

Where does a diederik cuckoo live?

A diederik cuckoo lives in riverside bushes, woodlands, and savannas. They are native to Sub-Saharan Africa and Arabian Peninsula. Diederik is an intra-African migrant that moves to Southern Africa from Central and East Africa in September or October month and returns in March or April. They also visit Oman during the summer.

What is a diederik cuckoo's habitat?

A diederik cuckoo's habitat is semi-dry regions like open woodlands, marsh edges, grasslands, and savannas, and is seldom seen in suburban gardens. The diederick cuckoo female chooses its habitat close to the nest of brood parasite hosts such as weavers, sparrows, and bishops.

Who do diederik cuckoo live with?

A diederik cuckoo is a solitary bird and prefers to live independently. The male and female come together only during the breeding season. The female lives a territorial life and defends territory in a host-parasite colony.

How long does a diederik cuckoo live?

A diederik cuckoo can live as long as seven or eight years.

How do they reproduce?

The diederik cuckoo (Chrysococcyx caprius) is a brood parasite, and the female lays eggs in the nests of brood parasite hosts. Before mating, they follow some breeding rituals where the adult male can display a unique courtship to attract the female by singing the song and gifting caterpillars to the female.

First, the females accept the males by taking the caterpillar, and later the pair dance together by moving their wings. Breeding season is usually the wet season.

Before laying her egg in the host nest, the female destroys or eats any eggs or brood of the host. The host species mostly do not recognize the parasite eggs.

The host birds incubate the eggs for nearly 12 days after laying. Two or three days after hatching, the diederick cuckoo chick will destroy the host chick.

The cuckoo chick will grow in the host's nest for more than 22 days, during which the host parents feed the chick with distinct food based on the type of host it is. For example, bishops feed the chick with grass seeds, and southern masked weavers and sparrows feed them with distinct insects.

What is their conservation status?

As per the IUCN red list, the conservation status of Diederik cuckoos is Least Concern. The species is not threatened and is common throughout its range.

Diederik Cuckoo Fun Facts

What do diederik cuckoos look like?

Diederik cuckoos are small cuckoos that are sexually dimorphic and show the difference in appearance between males and females. Adult males are more attractive than females.

The adult male has shiny green on the above and whitish underparts and has shiny copper areas on their back. Their eyes are red with red eye-ring. They have a subtle green malar stripe and a characteristic broken white eye stripe.

Their feathers on wings have three to four white dots on the inner side, and the tips of four green outer tail feathers are white, and the outermost pair has white spots on both vanes. Females are more coppery on their back than males. Their flanks have copper stripes, and underparts are brown.

The young birds are different from adults and are more coppery above and browner below. They have a red bill, white wing bar, and brown, patchy marked flanks.

Diederik cuckoo male sings to find its mate.

How cute are they?

They are adorable little birds, especially adult males, which have glossy green feathers. A female diederik is also equally beautiful but less glossy than a male and can camouflage easily in the leaves of trees.

How do they communicate?

They are noisy little birds, and the male makes a continuous and loud 'deed-deed-deed-deed-er-ick' call to find its mate, from which it is named. A  female may respond to the male with a 'deea-deea-deea' sound. A male also sings a song as part of courtship to attract the female.

Male birds of the species make loud, repetitive calls that sound like hiccups, whistles, or flutes, depending on the type of cuckoo. Cuckoos call to attract mates or show ownership of territory, and many cuckoo species get their name from their call.

How big is a diederik cuckoo?

A diederik cuckoo is nearly 7-8 in (18-20 cm) long. It is three to four times smaller than a Channel-billed cuckoo.

How fast can a diederik cuckoo fly?

The exact speed at which the diederik cuckoo flies is unknown, but indeed, these tiny birds fly very fast. Since the diederick cuckoo is a brood parasite, the female lays eggs in the nests of the host species, and the host birds chase the female cuckoo away.

However, despite the mobbing from hosts, the female is determined to deposit its egg in the host nest, and for this, the female has to be alert and very quick.

How much does a diederik cuckoo weigh?

A diederik cuckoo weighs nearly 1-1.2 oz (28.4-32.02 g) and is three times lighter than a common cuckoo.

What are the male and female names of the species?

They do not have any specific name for male and female species, and they are just called male diederik cuckoo and female diederik cuckoo.

What would you call a baby diederik cuckoo?

Baby diederik cuckoos have no particular name, but they are called chicks like any other bird species.

What do they eat?

Diederick cuckoo will have different types of insects as food like caterpillars, grasshoppers, termites, and beetles. They eat caterpillars which are poisonous to other birds. They occasionally feed on seeds and eggs laid by brood parasite hosts. They mainly forage trees looking for food on leaves and stems and sometimes pick food from the ground.

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous to humans and help us by eliminating pests which are their primary diet. However, they cause harm to other bird species like southern masked weavers, sparrows, and red bishops by destroying their eggs and chicks to lay their eggs.

In addition, female diederik cuckoos are territorial and aggressively defend their territory within a colony of potential breeding hosts.

Would they make a good pet?

The diederick cuckoo does not make a good pet as it is a wild bird and loves to be free. It is good to note that in some places, it is illegal to pet cuckoos.

Did you know...

The informal meaning for cuckoo is a mad person. Otherwise, a cuckoo means a medium-sized bird with a long tail, usually brown or gray with pale underparts. They belong to the family of Cuculidae and the order Cuculiformes. The other birds in this family are anis, coucals, couas, malkohas, koels, roadrunners, and common or European cuckoos.

Cuckoos are found in almost all parts of the world except Antarctica, and they live in evergreen tropical rainforests, woodlands, and mangrove forests. Some species of cuckoos are migratory. Some cuckoos like roadrunners and pallid cuckoo live in dry arid areas like deserts.

Though the young birds of many species of cuckoo are not raised by original parents, the calling remains consistent within the species even across large ranges. And this suggests that the calls are not learned but are inborn.

Even though cuckoo is diurnal, we can sometimes hear them calling at night, and the exact reason is unknown, but it may be to find their mate.

Cuckoo species come in different colors based on the species and are black, gry, blue, and brown, with different patterns, stripes, or spots in white color.

What is special about the cuckoo?

A cuckoo is a brood parasite, and the female lays eggs in the nests of other species of birds. They destroy or eat the eggs laid by host birds already present in the nest and then lay their eggs.

Twenty-four types of parasite hosts are known in South Africa, including red bishops, cape wagtail, southern masked weavers, cape weavers, and village weavers.

Why is the cuckoo a lazy bird?

The cuckoo is a lazy bird because it does not build a nest of its own. Since cuckoos are brood parasites, the female lays eggs in nests of other bird species and depends on host species in raising their chicks after hatching from eggs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our loggerhead shrike facts and Mississippi kite facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable diederik cuckoo coloring pages.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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