For a while now, I have been hearing the ‘may-i-kie-may-i-kie’ call of the male Klaas’s Cuckoo in my garden, as he calls for a mate.
In the past, I have seen both male and female cuckoos, but never together, so it came as a bit of a surprise when I saw a female cuckoo being fed by a male in my garden at two different locations. The female sat, silently, on a fence wire and then a branch on a tree, and the male dropped to the ground, flying back to her with various insects.
He appeared to almost tease her with his offering, allowing her to get close and then pulled away, constantly bobbing up and down until she made a concerted effort to reach out and grab the food. He immediately dropped to the ground again and returned with another offering, the ritual starting all over again.
This is ‘courtship feeding’ and might have been a young male trying to impress a young female. It serves to strengthen the bond between them and, if the female is happy, they will remain partners for life, staying monogamous.
This was also the first time I heard the female call.
After the male had fed the female about a dozen insects, he flew into an adjacent tree. She remained where she was, bobbing about, waiting for him to return. He didn’t, so she called out in a low ‘weee’ sound, which was immediately answered by the male with his ‘may-i-kie-may-i-kie’ call. Without any hesitation, she flew straight to him.
(We Include Steve's lovely images illustrating this process below. - Ed.)