Migratory birds breeding in Europe often have chronic malaria infections which are assumed to have been picked up on their wintering grounds in Africa. But we know little about their effects in Africa where it’s assumed acute infections might occur. Dr Marjorie Sorensen studied willow warblers during her PhD and found, surprisingly, no obvious ill-effects of malaria parasites on the birds wintering in Zambia. Read more in the original paper by Marjorie Sorensen, Muhammad Asghar, Staffan Bensch, Graham Fairhurst, Susanne Jenni-Eiermann and Claire Spottiswoode, available open access in Journal of Avian Biology.
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.