First breeding records of Great Spotted Cuckoo north of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
The Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) is widespread in Southern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. The breeding of the species in North Africa is, however, far less common.
The first breeding of the species in Morocco was recorded only in 1990 near Taroudant in Souss region (Maumary & Dupperex 1991). And currently, the species breeds regularly only in that region and the adjacent area. North of the Atlas Mountains, the breeding was suspected at a number of sites (mainly in the first half of the 20th century) but never proven (Thévenot et al. 2003). There are a couple of recent observations from Maâmora Forest (north-east of Rabat), but like the old records, proofs are lacking.
Juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoos were reported from Aousserd, but it’s not clear if these juveniles were still dependent on their foster parents (it would be Brown-necked Ravens at this latitude) or fully-grown individuals on migration.
The species is even rarer in the rest of Northwest Africa. In Tunisia, the breeding was only proven in 2017 (Ouni et al 2018). In Algeria, the breeding was reported formerly but there are no recent records (As in Tunisia and Morocco, these old breeding records were probably never confirmed). As a brood parasite, the Great Spotted Cuckoo targets the Maghreb Magpie (Pica mauritanica) in Northwest Africa.
Update: Breeding of Great Spotted Cuckoo in Algeria confirmed in July 2019.
Breeding records north of the Atlas Mountains
Tahnaout, near Marrakech
The first proven breeding of the species north of the Atlas in Morocco was recorded in al-Haouz region. Two young Great Spotted Cuckoos were observed being fed by Maghreb Magpie near Tahnaout in May 2015 (Brahim Bakass, Mohamed Radi and the late Abdelaziz El Idrissi). In May 2017, Brahim observed an adult Maghreb Magpie feeding a young magpie and a young Great Spotted Cuckoo almost at the same place as in 2015.
As part of the study of urban birds in Fes for her PhD, Wafae Squalli discovered that Great Spotted Cuckoos parasitizes the nests of Maghreb Magpie in this region as well. She gathered interesting data about this population, but obviously she wants to publish this in a formal article first.
If you know any breeding record, especially outside Souss region, please get in touch. Thanks!
Maumary, L. & Dupperex, H. 1991. Le Coucou geai Clamator glandarius nicheur dans le Sud marocain. Alauda 59: 53.
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.
Thévenot, M., Vernon, R. & Bergier, P. 2003. The Birds of Morocco. BOU CheckList No 20. BOU, Tring.