Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Magpie parents know a baby cuckoo when they see one

Date:
December 11, 2013
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Cuckoos that lay their eggs in the nest of a magpie so that their chicks can be raised by the latter better hope that their young are not raised together with other magpies. The chances of cuckoo fledglings raised in mixed broods being fed by their foster parents are much lower, according to research.

Cuckoos that lay their eggs in the nest of a magpie so that their chicks can be raised by the latter better hope that their young are not raised together with other magpies. The chances of cuckoo fledglings raised in mixed broods being fed by their foster parents are much lower, according to research led by Manuel Soler of the Universidad de Granada in Spain. The findings are published in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Related Articles


The post-fledging period is a critical phase for juvenile survival during which parental care is still very important. This is also true for inter-specific brood parasites, whose offspring are incubated and raised by members of other species. Very little is known however about the relationships between foster parents and fledglings of brood parasites. Sometimes, great spotted cuckoo and magpie nestlings from the same nest can fledge successfully, but most often parasitic nestlings out-compete host nestlings and only cuckoos leave the nest.

Soler and his team studied the brood parasitic great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) and its magpie (Pica pica) foster parents over the course of five breeding seasons. Aspects of cuckoo post-fledging performance, such as feeding behavior, parental defense and fledgling survival, were studied in experimental nests in which only cuckoos or both magpie and cuckoo nestlings survived until leaving the nest. Some of the fledglings were also radio tracked. The study was the first to focus on the defense behavior of adult magpies towards parasite fledglings.

They found that great spotted cuckoo fledglings are more frequently fed by magpie hosts when they are reared in nests with cuckoo-only broods, compared to those reared sharing the nest with host nestlings. This is especially true in the first three weeks after fledglings leave the nest. These are the first experimental results to show the importance of the nest situation for the performance of brood parasite fledglings.

The results support the idea that magpies are capable of discriminating cuckoo fledglings when they are allowed to compare them with their own fledglings. The researchers believe that the difference disappeared three weeks after leaving the nest because fledgling cuckoos by then tend to join cuckoo groups that are communally fed by more magpies than those involved in rearing the cuckoos in the nest.

"The presence of the host's own nestlings for comparison may be a crucial clue favoring the evolution of fledgling discrimination;" writes Soler. "Furthermore, the risk of discrimination at the fledgling stage probably is an important selection pressure driving the evolution of the arms race between brood parasites and their hosts."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Manuel Soler, Liesbeth Neve, Gianluca Roncalli, Elena Macías-Sánchez, Juan Diego Ibáñez-Álamo, Tomás Pérez-Contreras. Great spotted cuckoo fledglings are disadvantaged by magpie host parents when reared together with magpie nestlings. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1648-9

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Magpie parents know a baby cuckoo when they see one." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211093732.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2013, December 11). Magpie parents know a baby cuckoo when they see one. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211093732.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Magpie parents know a baby cuckoo when they see one." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211093732.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins