Stop … thief!

This is a pretty unusual sight, in fact, one that I can’t recall having seen before.

Over the past fortnight both Shining and Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos have been calling in town, with the latter seen in our garden on most days. Over the weekend, one flew into an elm in front of the house, but something about it looked odd. Upon closer inspection it had an egg in its bill!

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Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo with egg, Newstead, 13th September 2014.

Not only do cuckoos lay their own eggs in the nests of other birds – they also steal the eggs of the host. This one looks like it’s plundered a honeyeaters nest, with the pink, spotted egg typical of many of the smaller honeyeaters.

Cuckoo2

Crushing the egg to devour the contents.

The cuckoo’s strategy is simple and effective. Not only does it get the host to do the hard work of incubation and rearing the young cuckoo, it also gets a free meal! Millions of years of evolution has gone into this fascinating and successful behaviour.

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Moments later and the meal has been devoured!

Cuckoo numbers seem to be at an all time high – in addition to the bronze-cuckoos, I heard and saw Pallid, Fan-tailed and Black-eared Cuckoos over the weekend. This is a good sign and indicative of an ecosystem that is doing well – recovering after the Millenium drought.

One response to “Stop … thief!

  1. Fascinating info

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