Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cuckoos pose parental puzzle


Cuckoos puzzle me. Their parasitic habits seem to offer freedom from parental labours, yet over recent years I've seen three Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo (Chalcites basalis) pairs feeding immatures of their own species - perhaps indeed their own young. Just as baffling, how did the species first come to pop eggs into the tiny hidden domed nests of Red-backed Fairy-wrens? After the first, imprinting would explain continued laying: the cuckoos recognise fairy-wren nests are theirs. But the first ... ?


And Little Bronze-Cuckoo (Chalcites minutillus) can on a rare day be seen in what might be family groups of three or four, though the young appear more often to be begging than receiving food. 



Not seen anything similar with Brush Cuckoos (Cacomantis variolosus). Perhaps others have?
Click pix to enlarge

2 comments:

geoff from barham said...

Tony, I just read 'The Nesting Season: Cuckoos, Cuckolds and the Invention of Monogamy' by Bernd Heinrich which explores the whole topic with humour and great observation. http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674061934&content=reviews There is a constant competition between hosts and cuckoos with rather rapid changes to eggs or development of other tricks. Certainly one of the most fascinating areas of birdology.

Tyto Tony said...

Gidday Geoff,

I'll check it out at the library, Thanks.