Clamator jacobinus (Jacobin cuckoo) 

Bontnuwejaarsvoël [Afrikaans]; Ilunga Legwaba [Xhosa]; iNkanku [Zulu]; Montoe-phatšoa [South Sotho]; Inkanku [Swazi]; Tihunyi (also applied to Levaillants cuckoo) [Tsonga]; Jacobijnkoekoek [Dutch]; Coucou jacobin [French]; Jakobinerkuckuck, Elsterkuckuck [German]; Cuco-jacobino [Portuguese]

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Clamator jacobinus (Jacobin cuckoo) Clamator jacobinus (Jacobin cuckoo) 

Jacobin cuckoo, Tanzania. [photo Martin Goodey ©]

Jacobin cuckoo (dark form), Polokwane Game Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

The Jacobin cuckoo is fairly common and widespread, with a occurring from India to Arabia south to large areas of southern Africa. It is a specialist, feeding mainly on caterpillars, foraging by hopping from branch to branch, snatching insects from the foliage. It is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in other birds nests (usually bulbuls). It lays 1 egg per nest, laying a total of about 25 eggs in one breeding season. The chick hatches after an incubation period of about 11-13 days, remaining in the nest for roughly 17 days. It learns to fly soon after leaving, becoming fully independent at about 33 days old.

Distribution and habitat

Fairly common and widespread, with occurring from India to Arabia south to sub-Saharan Africa, avoiding equatorial lowland forest. In southern Africa it is fairly common in central and northern Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa (largely excluding the arid Karoo). It generally prefers Acacia and mixed savanna woodland, but it may also occupy valley bushveld, coastal forest and Miombo woodland.

Distribution of Jacobin 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.  

Call

 
   

Recorded by Clem Hagner, [© Transvaal Museum]

 

Movements and migrations

Intra-African breeding migrant, with complex movements across its distribution range. It normally arrives in southern Africa in October to breed, and usually leaves by April, although it sometimes stays for the rest of the year.

Food 

Feeds mainly on caterpillars, doing most of its foraging by hopping from branch to branch, snatching insects from the foliage. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • It is a brood parasite, meaning that it lays its eggs in other birds nests. The host, thinking that the egg is its own, incubates the egg and cares for the chick. The following bird species have been recorded as hosts of the Jacobin cuckoo:
  • Egg-laying season is from October-April, peaking from November-January.
  • It lays one egg per nest, laying a total of about 25 eggs in one breeding season. Both sexes are involved in egg-laying - the male perches near the host's nest, calling loudly in order to get the attention of the hosts away from the female. She in the meantime flies into the nest, lays an egg and flies out again, usually abstaining from destroying the hosts eggs.
  • The chick hatches after an incubation period of about 11-13 days, remaining in the nest for roughly 17 days. It learns to fly soon after leaving, becoming fully independent at 33 days old.

Threats

Not threatened.

References

  • 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. 

 

 

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