Posted on the 4th May 2013

Linda Hibbin, Graham Searll and myself were at Kirstenbosch this morning (Friday 3 May) and at a tree we have named the cuckoo tree, as all the larva of the Garden Acrea Butterfly have attracted so many Klaas's Cuckoos, we observed a fascinating interaction.

Both adult and juvenile cuckoos were present, and today we watched a male chasing a female all around the area. Every now and then she would stop on a branch, utter a strange call, and he would immediately pop a caterpillar into her bill! The strange call from the female and interaction attracted some Sombre Greenbuls who then followed the cuckoo pair in a procession through the tree tops!

I couldn't imagine the cuckoos would want to breed now, but on the other hand, the Sunbirds are starting to breed and perhaps the Cuckoos see them as potential hosts?

I can't find any reference to Klaas's breeding in winter in the Western Cape, as their hosts are mainly Prinias and other birds that only breed in spring or summer - so why would this pair be showing this behaviour unless our winter breeding sunbirds are actually their host parents?

Margaret Maciver



JESSIE BLACKSHAW (posted: 2013-05-03)
Hi All,
Last year I reported on Cape Birdnet that I had photographed a southern double collared sunbird feeding a klaas’ cuckoo in mid July in a tree just outside our garden in Constantia. I watched anxiously as the winter storms battered this little nest. Soon after the sunbirds had a second brood but no cuckoo this time.
Jessie Blackshaw
BRIAN VANDERWALT (posted: 2013-05-03)
Hi All,
I have checked Bunty Rowan’s book on “The Doves, Parrots, Louries and Cuckoos of Southern Africa” and that does not show any breeding in the Western Cape after Feb. It does however state that in the Eastern Cape there are records for May, Jun & Jul and the comment that goes with that is: “The Klaas’s Cuckoo present in that season are sometimes in reproductive condition and capable of taking advantage of opportunities to breed”.
The list of hosts does not show any Cape birds other than Malachite Sunbird (Frost, Pringle 1948) but also shows other sunbirds elsewhere. Maybe we have not recorded them here?
Would be interesting to watch as we also now have Amethyst Sunbirds here which is a recorded host elsewhere.
Brian Vanderwalt