21 C
Mossel Bay
17th Jun 2019
Nature & Nurture Uncategorised

A CUCKOO IN THE NEST

The Cape Weavers are in full breeding mode in the garden and there are at least 50 nests in the big bluegum tree. This seems like a far safer location than the back garden gum where they had daily visits from the boomslang. Still, they aren’t exactly safe and I’ve seen several African Harrier-Hawks hanging around the nests. The weavers must be very thankful for their belligerent neighbours the Forktailed Drongos – these pugnacious little birds team up to drive away the raptors and one especially bellicose individual follows the birds as they try to power away, pecking at their head and back.
Another threat for the weavers are the Diederik Cuckoos which have just returned from their winter holidays. Once she has laid her egg, the female cuckoo removes the host’s egg from the nest.

Interestingly, not all cuckoo species murder their host nest mates and some simply live alongside them as an adopted sibling, sharing the food brought by the parents. The Great Striped Cuckoo parasitises crows and starlings in South Africa and typically lives amicably with its new family, although eggs and chicks can be damaged by the rapidly growing cuckoo, who begs more energetically and outcompetes the hosts’ offspring for food.

Regarding the other species in our area, the Red-chested Cuckoo female also removes a host egg when she leaves and her chick develops a hollow back enabling it to evict eggs and nestlings. The Klaas’s Cuckoo does the same with their hosts (batises, sunbirds, small warblers). Both the Black Cuckoo female and chick toss eggs out of the nest of their Southern Boubou hosts, as does the African Emerald Cuckoo (Green-backed Camaroptera).

It’ll be a busy time for the weavers.
Photo credit: Copper (via iNaturalist)

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