Our African Cuckoos and their Fork-tailed Drongo hosts star in the “Parenthood” episode of the BBC Natural History Unit’s “Life Story” TV series, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. The broadcast is at 21h00 GMT on BBC One. The Natural History Unit team visited us in Zambia in September–October 2012 to film, ably assisted in the field by Jeroen Koorevaar. See also lovely photos of cuckoos, drongos and cuckoo trickery in the book accompanying the TV series.
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.