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Aves Bird of the week - Red-chested Cuckoo - Cuculus solitarius

The Red-chested Cuckoo - Cuculus solitarius -  is found in Africa south of the Sahara. In Southern Africa it is a common breeding migrant, in the eastern half of southern Africa, and is quite common in protected areas. The preferred habitats for the Red-chested Cuckoo are woodlands but lives in wide range of habitats.

The Red-chested Cuckoo is normally seen by itself rather than in the company of birds of the same species and is highly vocal.

It feeds mostly on invertebrates, particularly hairy caterpillars but also grasshoppers and beetles.

The Red-chested Cuckoo takes on more than a single mate (it is bigamous). It is a brood parasite and the host incubates the egg and cares for the chick. The surrogate family then raise the chicks. The female Red-chested Cuckoo lays between 20 eggs per season in different nests. The egg-laying season is from October-January. It mostly parasitizes Cape Robin-chat, rushing into their nests, and removing the host's eggs before laying one of its own. Once the chick is 2 days old, it evicts the host's eggs and nestlings. It stays in the nest for 17 to 21 days, and is dependent on its host parents for 20 to 25 days more, before becoming fully independent.

Conservation Status – Least Concern

These highly vocal and striking birds can be seen on the following Aves Birding Tours: -

Aves Eastern Cape Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North East Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North West Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Western Cape Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves West Coast Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Photographed at Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens by Peter Sievers.

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