Black Cuckoo

Cuculus clamosus
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)
A Black Cuckoo out in the open for a change.
Connor Cullinan

An essential contributor to the summer Ferncliffe soundtrack, the Black Cuckoo’s mournful calls and whirl-y-gig cries seem especially suited to days when mist swirls thickly through the trees. This one was seen in the vicinity of a Southern Boubou nest, which it parasitizes; but often their call is all that announces their presence.

The Zulu name is undodosibona, a compound of indoda, or ‘man’, and osibona, or ‘who sees us’. As the Roberts Birds of KwaZulu-Natal and their Zulu Names explains, this refers to ‘the fact that this bird calls from dense vegetation where people cannot see it, but it can see them’.

Black cuckoos love caterpillars, which in turn seem relatively common in black wattle plantations.