The Birds

Brood-parasitic study systems

In Zambia we study four different groups of brood parasitic birds and their hosts, as well as some interesting non-parasitic birds, too.

Cuckoo Finch egg circle

Cuckoo Finches

Cuckoo Finches Anomalospiza imberbis are brood parasitic finches that exploit various species of warblers as their hosts. They have evolved beautiful mimicry not only of their different host species, but also of different host colour and patterns, or ‘forgeries’ to their hosts’ egg ‘signatures’.
Read more here…

Honeyguide

Greater and Lesser Honeyguides

Honeyguides are intriguingly bizarre birds with respect to most aspects of their lives. They guide humans to bees’ nests, are unusually brutal brood parasites of other birds and, it turns out, have a remarkably ancient history of specialisation on their particular host species.
Read more here…

African Cuckoo

African and Diederik Cuckoos

African Cuckoo eggs are probably the very best forgeries of any brood parasitic egg in the world. They can so closely resemble those of their hosts that neither we nor the hosts can tell them apart.
Read more here…

Indigobird

Vidua Finches: Whydahs and Indigobirds

Vidua finches, the indigobirds and whydahs, belong to the same family as Cuckoo Finches but have a fascinatingly different brood parasitic system involving beautiful mimicry of their host chicks’ bizarrely pattern mouthparts.
Read more here…

Other interesting things we study in Choma

Great Reed Warbler

Migratory Birds

Marjorie Sorensen carried out her PhD research on the intriguing and little-known winter ecology of Palearctic-breeding migratory birds (Willow Warblers and Great Reed Warblers) that spend the non-breeding season in Zambia.
Read more here…

FN Nightjar

Nest Camouflage

We study camouflage and thermal ecology of eggs, chicks and incubating adults of ground-nesting birds in Choma: nightjars, coursers and plovers.
Read more here…

News

Symposium on moult in tropical birds at International Ornithological Congress

Dr Gabriel Jamie and Dr Chima Nwaogu organised a symposium on “The ecology and evolution of moult in tropical birds” as part of the International Ornithological Congress. The symposium included a Round Table discussion as well as invited talks from a range of speakers including Dr Yahkat Barshep (A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, Nigeria), Dr Barbara Helm (Swiss Ornithological Research Institute, Switzerland), Dr Oluwadunsin Adekola (FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa & Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria) and Dr Yosef Kiat (University of Haifa, Israel).

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Dr Gabriel Jamie speaks at European Society for Evolutionary Biology conference

Dr Gabriel Jamie was an invited speaker at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology conference in Prague, Czech Republic, as part of the symposium on “Repeated and Parallel Evolution in Adaptive Radiations. Gabriel spoke on “The persistence of polymorphisms across species radiations” building on work conducted together with Dr Joana Meier. To learn more about this research you can read their Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper here.

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Evolutionary Biology Crash Course

Tanmay Dixit was a member of a team organising and lecturing in the inaugural Evolutionary Biology Crash Course. This course, aimed at undergraduate or early-postgraduate students, teaches evolutionary principles to students who have had limited opportunities to be exposed to evolutionary ideas. The course is funded by the Equal Opportunities Initiative Fund of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology (ESEB). Tanmay presented lectures on behavioural ecology and evolution, focussing on kin selection, coevolution, and parasitism. Over 700 students, with the vast majority from the global South, attended the course, which was a resounding success!

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