The lives of migratory birds breeding in Europe and wintering in Africa south of the Sahara are governed by environmental conditions experienced thousands of kilometres apart. In this paper, Marjorie Sorensen cleverly measured isotopes and hormones deposited in growing feathers to track the conditions experienced by Great Reed Warblers en route through Africa. She shows that the rainfall conditions these birds experienced in the Horn of Africa, a staging post between Europe and southern Africa, affect their condition on their main wintering grounds in Zambia… read more in the article by Marjorie Sorensen, Graham Fairhurst, Susanne Jenni-Eiermann, Jason Newton, Elizabeth Yohannes and Claire Spottiswoode, available Open Access in BMC Ecology.
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.