When should a ground-nesting bird, protected only by its own camouflage, flee its nest to save itself from an approaching predator? In this study we show that nesting nightjars, plovers and coursers in Zambia time their escape from a threat depending on how well camouflaged their eggs and their own bodies are. Read more in an article about the study in Science Daily, or in the original paper by Jared Wilson-Aggarwal, Jolyon Troscianko, Martin Stevens and Claire Spottiswoode, available open access in The American Naturalist.
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.