Juvenile African Cuckoo Diet
African Birdlife|May/June 2021
Juvenile African Cuckoo Diet
Hugh Chittenden

During a visit to the Mata Mata camp site in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park we observed a pair of Fork-tailed Drongos feeding an African Cuckoo fledgling. The drongo is the only known host of the African Cuckoo and we were interested to record the prey items fed to the young bird.

Unlike the parasitic cuckoo, drongos aren’t specialist caterpillar feeders, so African Cuckoo offspring have to deal with the dominant prey that drongos are able to catch and deemed (by the drongos) to be the most suitable for their own offspring. African Cuckoo chicks are nest-evictors after hatching, they physically remove whatever host nestlings and eggs are already in the nest. This leaves the parasite nestling free to grow at its own pace and to feed on all the prey items delivered by the hosts without competition from other nestlings.

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