It is a medium-sized bird (28 to 30 cm), found in Africa south of the Sahara. In Afrikaans, it is known as `Piet-my-vrou`, after its call. It is usually solitary and highly vocal and lives on forests and plantations.

Habitat and Distribution

In Southern Africa it is a common breeding migrant, found throughout the area except for the drier west. The preferred habitats for the red-chested cuckoo are woodlands. The red-chested cuckoo is normally seen by itself rather than in the company of birds of the same species.


It eats insects.


The red-chested cuckoo takes on more than a single mate (it is polygamous). The nesting habit of red-chested cuckoo is to use the nest of another bird. About fifteen different species of small bird are parasitised but the most common hosts are the Cape robin-chat (Cossypha caffra), the Cape wagtail (Motacilla capensis) and the white-throated robin-chat (Cossypha humeralis). The surrogate family then raise the chick. The bird lays eggs which are brown in colour and number between 20 eggs per season in different nests.