Cuckoo Finch eggs mimic those of their hosts, and the same Cuckoo Finch female commonly lays two or more eggs in the same host nest. In this paper we show that this increases her chances of tricking hosts into accepting the parasitic eggs as their own. By increasing the proportion of foreign eggs in the clutch, Cuckoo Finches appear to be able to take advantage of uncertainty in the sensory and cognitive processes that hosts use to distinguish foreign eggs from their own.
Read the full paper in Nature Communications [Open Access].
In a new paper published in Evolution, Dr Gabriel Jamie along with Silky Hamama, Collins Moya and Prof. Claire Spottiswoode from the African Cuckoos team and collaborators from University of Puerto Rico (Steven Van Belleghem), Princeton University (Dr Cassie Stoddard and Dr Ben Hogan) and University of Cambridge (Professor Rebecca Kilner) provide evidence of host-specific mimicry in the indigobirds and whydahs of Africa. Building on the pioneering work of Robert Payne and Jürgen Nicolai, they provide quantitative evidence that nestling Vidua finches mimic the patterns, colours and begging calls of their host’s nestling, and qualitative evidence of mimicry of host movements.