The end of another productive field season! Mairenn Attwood and Jess Lund spent the past three months conducting experiments investigating how fork-tailed drongos defend themselves against parasitism by African cuckoos. Mairenn focused on drongo aggression as a defence, while Jess looked at their egg rejection behaviour. With over 170 drongo nests being found, we have a lot of exciting data to analyse.
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.