Day 1: Karoo Prinia foster parent

On the 27th Oct, Dave Woods, a fellow birder in Simon’s Town, phoned to say he had a fledged Klaas’s Cuckoo in his garden being actively hosted by a pair of Karoo Prinias.

Camera in hand I popped round to record proceedings and found a fully-fledged and highly vocal Klaas’s Cuckoo chick on an exposed perch in a Cape Honeysuckle bush.

Soon enough, after the initial disturbance caused by my arrival, the feeding cycle was again underway with Cape Zebra Cockroaches the main identifiable prey item.


Day 1: Southern Double-collared Sunbird foster parent
Day 2: Karoo Prinia foster parent
Day 2: Southern Double-collared Sunbird foster parent

Food transfers were quick and efficient and usually ended with the hard working foster parent receiving a sharp peck for its trouble from the cuckoo on departure!

Periods in between feeding cycles were punctuated by plaintive calling and active preening sessions along with a minor shift in position by the young cuckoo.

This had been going on for a short while when a female Southern Double Collared Sunbird arrived on the scene. At first I thought the few remaining flowers were the attraction until it flew directly to the feeding station to transfer whatever it had in its bill.

Initially it seemed to be a spontaneous ‘one off’ reaction in response to the young cuckoo’s begging behaviour and persistent calling.

What followed was clear evidence of a regular feeding cycle split between the foster species until the cuckoo switched position to the far side of the bush and out of sight.

When I returned the next day, around the same time, the cuckoo had moved to another feeding station in the garden and, once again, the feeding cycle by the two foster species repeated itself a non-conflicting interval.

According to related literature at my disposal neither species has been recorded as a host within the 16 species listed nor had an incidence of dual parental responsibility been recorded locally.

All goes to show that there is still much to learn about bird behaviour and why birding is such a fascinating recreational interest even if it’s in one’s own neighbourhood!


  1. Sue Phillips says:

    Amazing..we are in Fishoek we have just watched a baby Klaas’s Cuckoo being fed by a male and female double-collared sunbird alternately..actions much like described above. We thought it was unique and have photos (not as good as those above but 10mp and can be zoomed in)…absolutely marvellous at this time of year too. Also we have had a mature Klass’s cuckoo for a while which kept itself apart from these proceedings…very interesting

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