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the web of life in southern Africa

Chrysococcyx caprius (Diderick cuckoo) 

Diederikkie [Afrikaans]; Umgcibilitshane [Xhosa]; uNononekhanda [Zulu]; Ntetekeng [South Sotho]; Goudkoekoek, Diederikkoekoek [Dutch]; Coucou didric [French]; Diderikkuckuck, Goldkuckuck [German]; Cuco-bronzeado-maior [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Cuculiformes > Family: Cuculidae

Chrysococcyx caprius (Diderick cuckoo)

Diderick cuckoo male. [photo Gerhard Theron ]

Chrysococcyx caprius (Diderick cuckoo) Chrysococcyx caprius (Diderick cuckoo)

Diderick cuckoo male, Daan Viljoen Game Reserve, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Diderick cuckoo juvenile. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ]


The Diderick cuckoo is common in large areas of southern Africa, and lives in wide variety of habitats. It feeds exclusively on invertebrates, especially caterpillars. It is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in other birds nests, about 1 per nest but 22-24 can be laid in the whole breeding season. It destroys any eggs that the host has laid before laying its own, after which it leaves and is often mobbed by the host. Within the first three days of hatching, the cuckoo chick eats any the other eggs or chicks that weren't in the nest at the time of laying. It stays in the nest for about 19-22 days, and out of the nest, the chick remains with its adopted parents for about 21 more days.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across sub-Saharan Africa, generally preferring forest edges, mesic savanna, closed woodland, semi-arid shrublands, parks and gardens, occasionally moving into Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) woodland.

Distribution of Diderick cuckoo in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


A plaintive call that most commonly, put into words, sounds like "dee-dee-dee-dee-deederik".



Mainly eats invertebrates, especially caterpillars but also termites and even the eggs of its host. It typically forages in the foliage of trees and bushes, gleaning prey from leaves and stems, and occasionally flying down to the ground to pick up a prey item. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Insects
  • Eggs of its hosts



Not threatened, in fact its distribution range seems to have expanded recently.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.