As fieldwork overlapped with October Big Day, four of us – Collins, Silky, Mairenn and Jess – joined forces with other birders from Choma to record bird species in the area. Organised by the Cornell Lab, the day sees people around the world contribute to one global bird list. Just a few of over 20,000 people who took part in total, we contributed 152 species including the Zambian barbet to the 6,700-strong list. Big thanks to hosts Rory and Dori McDougall at Masuku Lodge for a fantastic day!
New paper on imperfect egg mimicry
Our paper “Combined measures of mimetic fidelity explain imperfect mimicry in a brood parasite-host system” has just been published in the journal Biology Letters. This study was led by Tanmay Dixit, and carried out together with Gary Choi, Salem al-Mosleh, Jess Lund, Jolyon Troscianko, Collins Moya, L Mahadevan, and Claire Spottiswoode, as part of a collaboration between our group and Prof. Mahadevan and his lab at Harvard University. Together we combined mathematical tools and field experiments in Zambia to quantify a key difference – “squiggle” markings – between the eggs of hosts (tawny-flanked prinias) and parasites (cuckoo finches). We showed that suboptimal behaviour on the part of prinias allows cuckoo finches to get by with an imperfect copy of prinia eggs.