Outwitting deadbeat cuckoo finch parentsPosted: April 19, 2011
Back in March I posted about the parasitic nesting habits of cuckoos, which lay their eggs in other bird species’ nests. Today comes scientific evidence of some bird species in Zambia which have evolved novel strategies to evict eggs left by cuckoos.
The cuckoo finch, a brood parasitic bird that lays her eggs in the nests of other birds, leaving them to raise her chicks, is out of luck when it comes to at least three potential hosts. The tawny-flanked prinia, red-faced cisticola, and rattling cisticola have evolved ways to outsmart her, either by laying a diverse variety of eggs that she cannot mimic or become more discriminating in identifying her eggs, or both. It’s a remarkable example of natural selection at work in the evolutionary competition for survival.
Corrected link to Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences)