Occurs in patches of West Africa, as well as the area
from eastern DRC through Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi to southern Africa. Within
southern Africa it
is uncommon to rare in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Mpumalanga, generally preferring
well-developed woodland with Zambezi teak (Baikaiea plurijuga), miombo (Brachystegia)
and Mopane (Colosphermum mopane).
Nomadic and migratory, as for example it is a
breeding visitor to Lake Kyle, Zimbabwe from September-December.
Mainly eats caterpillars, grasshoppers and mantids, doing
most of its foraging by grabbing prey from the canopy.
Polyandrous brood parasite; males defend a small territory in which
they display to passing females, mating with many females in the breeding
season. They each go on to lay eggs in the nests of another bird, which is
almost invariably a Retz's
Egg-laying season is from September-April.
Since there is always at least one adult guarding the nest, the female has to be aggressive
in order to lay her egg. She first
rams into the incubating host and pushes it off the nest, then quickly
removes the host's eggs and lays one of her own. The egg is typically
incubated for about 13 days.
The chick ejects any other eggs or nestlings within four days of
hatching, leaving the nest at about 28-30 days old and becoming fully
independent roughly 50 days later.
Considered to be Rare butnot threatened,
although fragmentation of miombo (Brachystegia) woodland and other forms
of woodland clearance are cause for concern.
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts
- Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker
Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.
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