Great Spotted Cuckoo breeds in Algeria for the first time

Breeding of Great Spotted Cuckoo in Algeria is confirmed probably for the first time ever.

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) begging for food from its adoptive parent, the Maghreb Magpie (Pica mauritanica), north-east Algeria, July 2019 (Mourad Harzallah)
Young Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) begging for food from its adoptive parent, the Maghreb Magpie (Pica mauritanica), north-east Algeria, July 2019 (Mourad Harzallah).

The breeding of Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator Glandarius) is Algeria was suspected based on old records, but probably never confirmed (see under the next photo). Last July, naturalist Mourad Harzallah confirmed the breeding of the species in Algeria beyond any doubts. He photographed a group of young Great Spotted Cuckoos being fed by their host parents, the Maghreb Magpies (Pica mauritanica).

Mourad said that he has been searching for a proof of the species’ breeding for years, but without success. The recent launch of the project about the “Distribution and vulnerability assessment of the Maghreb Magpie” by Tunisian colleagues, in which he is also a participant, was a good omen as it means more efforts to study both species.

Young Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) begging for food from its adoptive parent, the Maghreb Magpie (Pica mauritanica), north-east Algeria, July 2019 (Mourad Harzallah).
Young Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) begging for food from its adoptive parent, the Maghreb Magpie (Pica mauritanica), north-east Algeria, July 2019 (Mourad Harzallah).

A rare breeder in Northwest Africa

Except the Souss region in Morocco, the Great Spotted Cuckoo is a rare and occasional breeder in Northwest Africa.

In Algeria, the species is cited as a breeder based on old records. Isenmann and Moali in the ‘Birds of Algeria’ (2000) citing de Balsac and Mayaud (1962) wrote: “Based on old records of parasitized Magpie nests, the species was reported in wooded areas of Oran and Constantine”. However, as in the case of the old breeding records in Tunisia and Morocco, these old records were probably never confirmed in Algeria as well.

In Tunisia, the first breeding proof of the species was recorded in 2017 in the Sbikha region (Ouni et al. 2018)

In Morocco, the breeding of the species was proven for the first time in April 1990 near Taroudant in the Souss region (Maumary & Dupperex 1991). Since then, the species is breeding in that region more or less regularly. And recently, the species was found breeding at a number of sites north of the Atlas Mountains.

Mourad Harzallah and his colleagues are preparing a paper about this breeding event.

References:

Maumary, L. & Dupperex, H. 1991. Le Coucou geai Clamator glandarius nicheur dans le Sud marocain. Alauda 59: 53.

Isenmann, P. & Moali, A. 2000. Oiseaux d’Algéria / Birds of Algeria. SEOF, Paris.

Ouni, R., Ouni, H. & Nouira, S. 2018. Premières nidifications du Coucou geai Clamator glandarius parasite de la Pie d’Afrique du Nord Pica mauritanica en Tunisie. Alauda 86: 63-63.

Young Great Spotted Cuckoo / Jeune Coucou geai (Clamator glandarius), north-east Algeria, July 2019 (Mourad Harzallah)
Young Great Spotted Cuckoo / Jeune Coucou geai (Clamator glandarius), north-east Algeria, July 2019 (Mourad Harzallah).
Young Great Spotted Cuckoos / Jeunes Coucous geais (Clamator glandarius), north-east Algeria, July 2019 (Mourad Harzallah)
Young Great Spotted Cuckoos / Jeunes Coucous geais (Clamator glandarius), north-east Algeria, July 2019 (Mourad Harzallah).

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