Natures wonders: Cuckoo disguise (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 15:51 (1563 days ago) @ David Turell

Looking totally like a harmless bird allows cuckoos to sneak their own eggs into a host's nest:


"'Our findings suggest that female cuckoo finches are aggressive mimics of female bishops, and that prinia hosts have responded to this successful deception with generalised defences against cuckoo finches and harmless bishops alike. This suggests these prinias have decided that it's best to 'play it safe' when the risk of parasitism is high because they can't distinguish between the two species" said Dr William Feeney from Cambridge University's Department of Zoology, who led the research.

"'While other brood-parasite species monitor host behaviour from concealed perches in nearby trees, cuckoo finches must seek host nests in open grasslands and savannahs. In such exposed circumstances, resembling an abundant and harmless model may allow female cuckoo finches to remain unnoticed when monitoring hosts nests at a medium range," he said.

"To investigate the cuckoo finch's disguise, the research team conducted plumage and pattern analysis using cuckoo skins from the Natural History Museum in Tring. They compared plumage to the cuckoo finches closest evolutionary relatives (Vidua finches), as well as with the skins of similar-looking birds (bishops) that share the same habitat.

"In both human and bird visual systems, they found that the plumage of a female cuckoo finch is far closer to the bishops and other species in the weaver family than to those of its closest relative, the Vidua finches."


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-cuckoos-mimic-harmless-species-disguise.html#jCp


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