Why cuckoos should parasitize parrotbills by laying eggs randomly rather than laying eggs matching the egg appearance of parrotbill hosts?
© Yang et al.; licensee BioMed Central. 2015
Received: 7 October 2014
Accepted: 2 February 2015
Published: 1 April 2015
The coevolutionary interaction between cuckoos and their hosts has been studied for a long time, but to date some puzzles still remain unsolved. Whether cuckoos parasitize their hosts by laying eggs randomly or matching the egg morphs of their hosts is one of the mysteries of the cuckoo problem. Scientists tend to believe that cuckoos lay eggs matching the appearance of host eggs due to selection caused by the ability of the hosts to recognize their own eggs. In this paper, we first review previous empirical studies to test this mystery and found no studies have provided direct evidence of cuckoos choosing to parasitize host nests where egg color and pattern match. We then present examples of unmatched cuckoo eggs in host nests and key life history traits of cuckoos, e.g. secretive behavior and rapid egg-laying and link them to cuckoo egg laying behavior. Finally we develop a conceptual model to demonstrate the egg laying behaviour of cuckoos and propose an empirical test that can provide direct evidence of the egg-laying properties of female cuckoos. We speculate that the degree of egg matching between cuckoo eggs and those of the host as detected by humans is caused by the ability of the hosts to recognize their own eggs, rather than the selection of matching host eggs by cuckoos. The case of Common Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) and their parrotbill hosts (Paradoxornis alphonsianus), where it has been shown that both have evolved polymorphic eggs (mainly blue and white), was used to develop a conceptual model to demonstrate why cuckoos should utilize parrotbill hosts by laying eggs randomly rather than laying eggs matching the appearance of host eggs.
In conclusion, we found no evidence for the hypothesis that cuckoos lay eggs based on own egg color matching that of the parrotbill-cuckoo system. We argue theoretically that laying eggs matching those of the hosts in this system violates a key trait of the life history of cuckoos and therefore should be maladaptive.
The well-known arms race Between parasitic cuckoos and their hosts has long been a model system for the study of coevolution and microevolution (Davies, 2000; Soler, 2014). Approximately 2300 years ago, Aristotle (382–322 BC) wrote that “it (i.e., the Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus) lays its eggs in the nest of smaller birds after devouring these birds’s eggs” (Peck 1970). Many years later, the ‘father of vaccination’, Edward Jenner (1788), observed the ejection behavior of cuckoo chicks and published his finding, on the basis of which he came to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Afterwards Darwin (1859) proposed the first explanation for how the parasitic behavior of cuckoos could have evolved by natural selection. Cuckoos exploit their hosts by transferring parental care to the host and this parasitism is undoubtedly costly for the hosts of the cuckoo (Rothstein and Robinson 1998; Davies 2000; Soler 2014). Furthermore, cuckoo parasitism destroys or severely reduces the reproductive success of its hosts (Davies 2011). This special behavior has provoked evolution of anti-parasitic defences in hosts, mainly involving a specific aggressive response towards cuckoos, a recognition of cuckoo eggs or chicks, a counter-adaptation against cuckoo trickery (e.g., egg mimicry) or fine tuning of parasitic adaptations (e.g., rapid egg-laying) (Dawkins and Krebs 1979; Davies 2011). Although this coevolutionary interaction between cuckoos and their hosts has been studied for a long time and a series of theories and hypotheses have been proposed, such as evolutionary lag, evolutionary equilibrium, strong eggshell and rapid laying of eggs by parasites, interaction between egg mimicry and egg recognition, host imprinting, host shift and chick recognition (Brooke and Davies 1988; Moksnes et al. 1991; Davies 2000; Røskaft et al. 2002; Langmore et al. 2003; Kilner 2006; Yang et al. 2013a), so far some puzzles have remained unsolved. For example, the question of whether cuckoos parasitize their hosts by laying eggs randomly or matching the egg morphs in host nests is one of the mysteries of the cuckoo problem (Davies 2000, Antonov et al. 2012).
Summary of previous studies of egg matching by cuckoos and current theories violated by the findings
Theories violated by the findings
Costs for the cuckoos
Avilés et al. (2006)
Museum and field data
comparing cuckoo egg matching between parasitized and non-parasitized nests
cuckoos laid matching eggs
secretive behavior and rapid egg-laying of cuckoos; host imprinting and host selection by cuckoos
increase the risk of detection by hosts; loss of time searching for nests and monitoring host behavior; mis-imprinting in host selection
Cherry et al. (2007)
cuckoos laid matching eggs
Honza et al.(2014)
cuckoos laid matching eggs
Antonov et al. (2012)
cuckoo laid eggs randomly
waste of poor-matching eggs in nests when hosts are good rejecters
At first, we briefly review previous empirical studies which have examined this mystery, provide examples of unmatched cuckoo eggs in host nests and key life history traits of cuckoos, e.g. their secretive behavior and rapid egg-laying and link them to cuckoo egg laying behavior. We then develop a conceptual model to demonstrate why cuckoos should utilize their hosts by laying eggs randomly rather than matching the appearance of host eggs. We opted for coevolution between Common Cuckoos and their parrotbill hosts (Paradoxornis alphonsianus), both of which have evolved polymorphic eggs (mainly blue and white) (Yang et al. 2010, 2013b), as an example for the model and follow with a discussion of this issue. In the end, we propose an empirical test that can provide direct evidence concerning the egg-laying properties of female cuckoos.
Examples of cuckoo laying of unmatched eggs in host nests
It has been supposed that cuckoo nestlings imprint on their foster parents and return to parasitize them as adults (Lack 1968; Davies 2000); however, laying a matching egg is not necessary. According to previous studies, cuckoos lay non-mimetic eggs in nests of many regular hosts (Payne 2005; Lee 2008; Yang et al. 2012a, 2012b; Lowther 2013). For example, Lee (2008) found that the Common Cuckoo laid 52.6% of unmatched cuckoo eggs in the nests of the Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Paradoxornis webbianus) that lays polymorphic eggs. This percentage is a considerable underestimation because the hosts rejected 82.6% of poorly-matching eggs and 16.7% of well-matching eggs (Lee 2008) and hence many unmatched cuckoo eggs should have been rejected before their detection by observers. Furthermore, cuckoos laid 100% non-matching eggs in Dunnock (Prunella modularis) nests (Davies and Brooke 1989). Since cuckoos do not experience the responses to their eggs by hosts as dunnocks do, nor recognize unmatched eggs (i.e., accept or reject cuckoo eggs), they should not lay non-mimetic eggs in dunnock nests, if cuckoos were to lay eggs based on their own egg appearance.
Previous studies and their deficiencies
The first tentative study considering cuckoo-host egg matching was by Avilés et al. (2006), which is a summary of the temporal changes in the degree of matching between Common Cuckoo and host (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) eggs, over a period of 24 consecutive years. They found that ultraviolet-brownness of cuckoo eggs was similar to that of host eggs at parasitized nests but differed from that of host eggs at non-parasitized nests (Avilés et al. 2006). Subsequently, three short-term studies investigated the degree of cuckoo-host egg matching between parasitized and non-parasitized nests (Cherry et al. 2007; Antonov et al. 2012; Honza et al. 2014). Cherry et al. (2007) tested this hypothesis in the Great Reed Warbler (A. arundinaceus), while Antonov et al. (2012) conducted an experiment with the Mash Warbler (A. palustris). However, these two studies present opposing conclusions. A final study by Honza et al. (2014) of great reed warblers quantified egg color by relying on physiological modeling of avian color vision. They also assessed cuckoo egg matching in host clutches that were suitable for parasitism in terms of timing but remained non-parasitized (Honza et al. 2014). However, multi-parasitized nests were excluded from their study. A total of 19 nests (31%) out of 61 nests were parasitized, while four nests (21%) were double parasitized and hence not included in the analysis (Honza et al. 2014).
These empirical studies attempted to assign parasitism status correctly in order to avoid the idea that cuckoo eggs in some parasitized nests had been rejected by hosts before their detection. These efforts included marking host eggs in each nest soon after laying (Cherry et al. 2007, Honza et al. 2014) or using nests found during nest building or at early stages of egg laying (Antonov et al. 2012) (Table 1). All the same, the potential risk of undetected parasitism and rejection by hosts still exists, no matter how small. Logically, only real full-time monitoring can completely exclude this bias. So far among these previous studies, Honza et al. (2014) have provided convincing support for solving this problem. However, they have not analyzed mimicry of egg pattern, which cannot be quantified by spectra. Recently new pattern quantification techniques from avian vision were developed (Stoddard and Stevens 2010; Stoddard et al. 2014), which may eliminate this restriction. Furthermore, since Common Cuckoos remove one host egg before laying their own egg (Davies 2000), scientists would be unable to compare the whole clutch of parasitized nests with that of non-parasitized nests, contributing further bias to studies. Such effects may be slight in host species with low intraclutch variation but can be severe in species with high intraclutch variation. To eliminate this problem, the spectra of each host egg should be measured soon after it is laid to avoid omission of any egg removal by cuckoos. Such frequent manipulation will exert considerable disturbance on both hosts and cuckoos, increase the rate of nest desertion of hosts and obstruct cuckoo parasitism, since cuckoos usually lay eggs during the egg-laying period of their hosts (Davies 2000). Moreover, such disturbance will also increase or decrease the risk of predation (Ibáñnz-Álamo et al. 2012). All these potential risks may together affect the results and cause bias. Additionally, none of these studies provide direct evidence of cuckoos choosing to parasitize host nests where egg color and pattern match. The degree of egg matching between cuckoo eggs and those of a host, as detected by humans, should be caused by egg recognition ability of hosts, rather than the selection of matching host eggs by cuckoos (Table 1).
Secretive behavior and rapid egg-laying vs. laying eggs matching host eggs
In order to deceive their hosts successfully, parasitic cuckoos have evolved a variety of tricks, selected for various anti-parasitic defences by hosts (Davies 2011). At first, female cuckoos should behave secretively to gain access to host nests for egg laying to avoid detection by hosts (Payne 1977). Detection, mobbing or attack by hosts are costly for cuckoos. Mobbing or attack by hosts may cause failure of egg-laying, injury and even have lethal consequence for adult cuckoos (Liversidge 1970; Davies 2000, 2011; Røskaft et al. 2002; Krüger 2011). For example, the mobbing by the bulbul (Pycnonotus capensis) makes it difficult for the female Jacobin cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus) to gain access to the host nest, but also difficult to monitor host behavior and hence time her laying correctly. In the end, many cuckoo eggs are laid too late and fail to hatch (Liversidge 1970; Krüger 2011). Furthermore, exposure, when laying eggs, also increases the rejection rate of cuckoo eggs because hosts may enhance their ability to discriminate against foreign eggs from increased risk of parasitism (e.g. Brooke et al. 1998; Stokke et al. 2008). Therefore, female cuckoos have evolved an astonishing ability of rapid egg-laying, i.e., in 7–158 seconds, a strong selection (evolutionary?) option as a consequence of nest defence by hosts (Payne 1977; Davies 2000; Moksnes et al. 2000). Fast egg laying in most obligate interspecific brood parasites is common and may have evolved to minimize host detection, which can elicit host defences and lower the likelihood of successful parasitism (Davies and Brooke Davies and Brooke 1988; Kattan 1997; Langmore et al. 2003; Mermoz and Reboreda 2003). Hosts can increase their defences when detecting parasite activity, which should select for cryptic habits in brood parasites (Moksnes et al. 1991; Bártol et al. 2003; Feeney et al. 2012).
However, when cuckoos search for host nests and lay eggs matching the appearance of the eggs of their hosts based on their own egg morphs, this will considerably increase the risk of detection by hosts because of high activity during parasitism. For example, a female Common Cuckoo of the parrotbill-specific gentes that lays blue eggs, should parasitize blue clutches of hosts. However, she cannot predict the color of host eggs before the female parrotbill lays them. Although parasitism generally occurs during the laying period, cuckoos spend most of their time monitoring the reproductive activity of their hosts (Davies 2000). Consequently, we can imagine that the blue-egg cuckoo would have to neglect white clutches that she has encountered and keep looking for blue clutches. That allows us to predict the costs for this phenomenon, for (1): this increases the risk of detection by hosts, which may cause subsequent attack or promote egg rejection by hosts (Moksnes et al. 1991; Honza et al. 2002) and (2): it causes loss of time seeking for host nests and monitoring host behavior (Table 1). The negative outcome of the second problem for cuckoos is undoubtedly costly for cuckoos invest time to search for host nests and monitor their breeding behavior within a breeding season (Chance 1940, Davies 2011). If the proportion of blue and white clutches in parrotbills is 1:1, female cuckoos face a probability of only 50% of the host egg color matching that of their own eggs. The real proportion of blue and white clutches in parrotbills is similar to this ratio (Yang et al. 2010).
Scientists may argue that laying eggs in a host nest randomly is also costly because of the waste of eggs in nests with poorly matching eggs. To compare the costs and benefits, we should consider nest density, habitat distribution of various egg morphs and the ability to recognize different host species in their habitat. We suggest that scientists should use mathematical modeling to quantify the costs of both properties and simulate the outcomes. In addition, egg laying by female cuckoos is so fast (less than 10 seconds, Davies 2000) that it could also prevent cuckoos from watching the host eggs carefully to check for matching status. Furthermore, so far no observation or video recording has shown that a female cuckoo gives up laying an egg in host nests when she finds that the host clutch does not match her egg morph, although some strange behavior of cuckoos, visiting host nests without laying eggs, has been recorded (Moksnes et al. 2000, Honza et al. 2002). Long-time monitoring, secretive approach and rapid egg laying by cuckoos are proven to be widespread and undoubted adaptations, selected by host defences (Rothstein and Robinson 1998; Davies 2000; Soler 2014). Matched egg laying with respect to egg phenotype contradicts these adaptations and thus seems to be maladaptive. One may argue that this inference is not persuasive. In the following we provide further arguments to show that cuckoo egg laying, based on the appearance of their own eggs, is maladaptive for host selection.
Host selection and mis-imprinting
Parasitic cuckoos can lay a variety of egg morphs to utilize different species of hosts. For example, common cuckoos in Europe have been divided into at least 16 host-specific races or gentes based on human visual inspection (Wyllie 1981; Álvarez 1994; Moksnes and Røskaft 1995). The question of how cuckoos maintain these distinct gentes and select hosts remains a puzzle (Honza et al. 2001). Two major hypotheses have been suggested - host imprinting and habitat imprinting (Lack 1968; Lotem 1993; Teuschl et al. 1998). The host imprint hypothesis assumes that a female cuckoo lays the same egg type as her mother and seeks to parasitize the same host species that raised her through imprinting on the characteristics of host parents (Lack 1968, Davies 2000). Therefore, for example, a female cuckoo nestling, raised by parrotbills, should choose to parasitize parrotbill nests when she starts to breed. For the habitat imprinting hypothesis, cuckoo nestlings imprint on the habitats in which they hatched (Moksnes and Røskaft 1995, Teuschl et al. 1998). Another explanation is a mixture of these two hypotheses with a sequence of decisions (Teuschl et al. 1998; Davies 2000). Scientists tend to believe that the most likely is host imprinting as shown for host choice by parasitic finches (Nicolai 1961; Davies 2000), although habitat imprinting may serve as a pre-adaptation for general nest searches by cuckoos (Teuschl et al. 1998, Honza et al. 2002, Vogl et al. 2002).
Natural selection acts on the phenotypes or the observable characteristics of organisms, which relate to fitness and vary between individuals within populations (Darwin 1859). Therefore, variation in egg phenotypes among individual cuckoos favors those that maximize fitness by utilizing potential new host species, especially when common hosts evolve high rates of egg rejection and cuckoos hence have low reproductive success in commonly parasitized nests compared to nests of novel hosts. For example, common cuckoos have been found to parasitize more than 300 species of hosts, which belong to about 46 families of birds (Lowther 2013).
Conceptual model of host shift based on different egg-laying behavior
Our conceptual model is based on the assumptions that (1): rejectors refer to hosts that reject all non-mimetic eggs and acceptors that accept them, (2): the new host species lays blue eggs, which are similar to the blue cuckoo eggs, but not particularly matching because it has had no coevolutionary history with the cuckoo, hence blue egg rejectors of hosts also reject a proportion of blue cuckoo eggs and (3): the cuckoo chicks imprint on the host species, which raise them.
According to Figure 1, female cuckoos have a probabilities of p 1 to parasitize hosts of rejectors and and q 1 of acceptors, where p 1 + q 1 = 1. Rejectors then can be divided into hosts laying eggs of different appearance, including blue eggs (host A with p 2), which are similar to those of the female cuckoos and other egg morphs (host B with q 2). However, host B rejects all blue eggs and causes failure of cuckoo parasitism. Host A accepts a proportion (p 4) of blue cuckoo eggs, but rejects the others (q 4). Only the accepted blue eggs can be incubated by hosts resulting in the cuckoo chicks fledging and choosing to parasitize host A again, with the consequence that the cuckoo chick has a probability of success of q 5 and q 6 to coevolve with host A. According to the second assumption, this probability (q 5 + q 6) depends on the egg-matching abilities of female cuckoos. In other words, q 5 and q 6 decreases with the increasing egg-matching ability of female cuckoos. This is close to zero when cuckoos have a good ability to match the egg appearance of hosts during laying. We included two mechanisms of acquisition of information on the appearance of own eggs in cuckoos in the model. However, even if the ability of learning egg appearance in cuckoos is acquired rather than inherited, female cuckoos can only succeed in their first trials of laying for learning but fail the second time. Similarly, for acceptor hosts laying blue eggs, female cuckoos possess a success rate of q 7 and q 8, which also decrease with the increase of egg-matching ability by cuckoos. In short, a successful probability is the sum of p 5 + p 6 + p 7 + p 8, which is close to zero when cuckoos have a great ability to lay eggs with a high degree of egg matching. In such a situation almost no cuckoo offspring can succeed in utilizing new host species.
By contrast, the results from the model that cuckoos parasitize new host species by laying eggs randomly are much simpler (Figure 2). Only if the new hosts were rejectors and laid non-blue eggs would this cause failure of cuckoo parasitism.
We have argued theoretically that laying eggs matching those of the host, violates the key traits in the life history of cuckoos and therefore should not evolve by natural selection.
First, egg matching behavior is against the secretive behavior of approaching cuckoos near host nests and wastes time by long-term monitoring of host behavior on the part of cuckoos.
Second, if cuckoos chose hosts with eggs similar to those with their own egg appearance, they would cause extreme constraints on the flexibility of their offspring to accept and adapt to a new host by pushing them into an evolutionary dead-end. Therefore, this would entirely cut off the evolution of exploitation of new hosts. It is likely that the percentage of egg matching between cuckoo and host eggs, as detected by humans, should be caused by the ability of egg recognition on the part of hosts (Davies and Brooke 1989), rather than the selection of matching host eggs by cuckoos.
Finally, we suggest an empirical method, referred to as an “induced parasitism experiment”, that may provide direct evidence to demonstrate how the cuckoo lays its eggs. In such an experiment, scientists establish artificial nests in which eggs of a different appearance are provided for egg laying by cuckoos. In this scenario, female cuckoos can readily monitor the focal nests because of the short distances between nests and lay an egg randomly or match the egg appearance of the eggs in these nests with that of their own eggs. If female cuckoos do not match their eggs with those of their hosts in this scenario of little or no constraints, there is no reason to believe that female cuckoos would be able to achieve a greater level of matching under natural conditions when host nests are considerably more difficult to find. This method should be feasible because Chance (1940) actually carried out a similar trial_ before, collecting cuckoo eggs.
We conclude by suggesting that cuckoo egg laying by matching host eggs is maladaptive and should not evolve from natural selection.
This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (nos. 31071938, 31272328 and 31472013 to WL, and 31260514 to CY), the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (NCET-13-0761), the Key Project of the Chinese Ministry of Education (no. 212136) and the Program of International S & T Cooperation (KJHZ2013-12) to CY.
- Álvarez F (1994) A gens of cuckoo Cuculus canorus parasitizing rufous bush chat Cercotrichas galactotes. J Avian Biol 25:239–243View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Antonov A, Stokke BG, Fossøy F, Ranke PS, Liang W, Yang C, Moksnes A, Shykoff J, Røskaft E (2012) Are cuckoos maximizing egg mimicry by selecting host individuals with better matching egg phenotypes? PLoS One 7:e31704View ArticlePubMed CentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Avilés JM, Stokke BG, Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Åsmul M, Møller AP (2006) Rapid increase in cuckoo egg matching in a recently parasitized reed warbler population. J Evol Biol 19:1901–1910View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bártol I, Karcza Z, Moskát C, Røskaft E, Kisbenedek T (2003) Response of greed reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus to experimental brood parasitism: the effects of a cuckoo Cuculus canorus dummy and egg mimicry. J Avian Biol 33:420–425View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Brooke M d L, Davies NB (1988) Egg mimicry of cuckoos Cuculus canorus in relation to discrimination by hosts. Nature 335:630–632View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Brooke ML, Davies NB, Noble DG (1998) Rapid decline of host defences in response to reduced cuckoo parasitism: behavioural flexibility of reed warblers in a changing world. Proc R Soc Lond B 265:1277–1282View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Chance EP (1940) The Truth about the Cuckoo. Country Life, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Cherry MI, Bennett ATD, Moskát C (2007) Do cuckoos choose nests of great reed warblers on the basis of host egg appearance? J Evol Biol 20:1218–1222View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Darwin C (1859) The Origin of Species. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Davies NB (2000) Cuckoos. Cowbirds and Other cheats. T & AD Poyser, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Davies NB (2011) Cuckoo adaptations: trickery and tuning. J Zool 284:1–14View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Davies NB, Brooke M d L (1988) Cuckoos versus reed warblers: adaptations and counteradaptations. Anim Behav 36:262–284View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Davies NB, Brooke ML (1989) An experimental study of co-evolution between the cuckoo Cuculus canorus and its hosts. I. Host egg discrimination. J Anim Ecol 58:207–224View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Dawkins R, Krebs JR (1979) Arms races between and within species. Proc R Soc Lond B 205:489–511View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Feeney WE, Welbergen JA, Langmore NE (2012) The frontline of avian brood parasite-host coevolution. Anim Behav 84:3–12View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Honza M, Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Stokke BG (2001) How are different common cuckoo Cuculus canorus egg morphs maintained? An evaluation of different hypotheses. Ardea 89:341–352Google Scholar
- Honza M, Taborsky B, Taborsky M, Teuschl Y, Vogl W, Moksnes A, Røskaft E (2002) Behaviour of female common cuckoos, Cuculus canorus, in the vicinity of host nests before and during egg laying: a radiotelemetry study. Anim Behav 64:861–868View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Honza M, Šulc M, Jelínek V, Požgayová M, Procházka P (2014) Brood parasites lay eggs matching the appearance of host clutches. Proc R Soc Lond B 281:20132665View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Ibáñnz-Álamo JD, Sanllorente O, Soler M (2012) The impact of researcher disturbance on nest predation rates: a meta-analysis. Ibis 154:5–14View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Jenner E (1788) Observations on the natural history of the cuckoo. Phil Trans R Soc Lond 78:219–237Google Scholar
- Kattan GH (1997) Shiny cowbirds follow the ‘shotgun’ strategy of brood parasitism. Anim Behav 53:647–654View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Kilner RM (2006) The evolution of egg colour and patterning in birds. Biol Rev 81:383–406View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Krüger O (2011) Brood parasitism selects for no defence in acuckoo host. Proc R Soc Lond B 278:2777–2783View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Lack D (1968) Ecological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Langmore NE, Hunt S, Kilner RM (2003) Escalation of a co-evolutionary arms race through host rejection of brood parasitic young. Nature 422:157–160View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Lee Y (2008) Egg discrimination by the vinous-throated parrotbill, a host of the common cuckoo that lays polychromatic eggs. MSc thesis. University of Manitoba, CanadaGoogle Scholar
- Liversidge R (1970) The biology of the Jacobin cuckoo Clamator jacobinus. Ostrich (Suppl) 8:117–137Google Scholar
- Lotem A (1993) Learning to recognize nestling is maladaptive for cuckoo Cuculus canorus hosts. Nature 362:743–744View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Lowther PE (2013) Host List of Avian Brood Parasitism. Field Museum, Chicago, ILGoogle Scholar
- Mermoz ME, Reboreda JC (2003) Reproductive success of shiny cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) parasitizing the larger brown-and-yellow marshbird (Pseudoleistes virescens) in Argentina. Auk 120:1128–1139View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Moksnes A, Røskaft E (1995) Egg-morphs and host preference in the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus): ananalysis of cuckoo and host eggs from European museum collections. J Zool 236:625–648View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Braa AT (1991) Rejection behaviour by common cuckoo hosts towards artificial brood parasitic eggs. Auk 108:348–354Google Scholar
- Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Hagen LG, Honza M, Mørk C, Olsen PH (2000) Common cuckoo Cuculus canorus and host behaviour at reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus nests. Ibis 142:247–258View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Nicolai J (1961) Die Stimmen Einiger Viduinen. J für Ornithol 102:213–214Google Scholar
- Payne RB (1977) The ecology of brood parasitism in birds. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 8:1–28View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Payne RB (2005) The Cuckoos. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Peck AL (1970) Aristotle: Historia Animalium. Heinemann, LongdonGoogle Scholar
- Røskaft E, Moksnes A, Stokke BG, Bicik V, Moskát C (2002) Aggression to dummy cuckoos by potential European cuckoo hosts. Behaviour 139:613–628View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Rothstein SI, Robinson SK (1998) Parasitic Birds and Their Hosts: Studies in Coevolution. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Soler M (2014) Long-term coevolution between avian brood parasites and their hosts. Biol Rev 89:688–704View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Stoddard MC, Stevens M (2010) Pattern mimicry of host eggs by the common cuckoo, as seen through a bird’s eye. Proc R Soc B 277:1387–1393View ArticlePubMed CentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Stoddard MC, Kilner MR, Tow C (2014) Pattern recognitioin algorithm reveals evolve individual egg pattern signature. Nature Communicat. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5117Google Scholar
- Stokke BG, Hafstad I, Rudolfsen G, Moksnes A, Møller AP, Røskaft E, Soler M (2008) Predictors of resistance to brood parasitism within and among reed warbler populations. Behav Ecol 19:612–620View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Teuschl Y, Taborsky B, Taborsky M (1998) How do cuckoos find their hosts? The role of habitat imprint. Anim Behav 56:1425–1433View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Vogl W, Taborsky M, Toborsky B, Teuschl Y, Honza M (2002) Cuckoo females preferentially use specific habitats when searching for host nests. Anim Behav 64:843–850View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Wyllie I (1981) The Cuckoo. Batsford, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Yang C, Liang W, Cai Y, Shi S, Takasu F, Møller AP, Antonov A, Fossøy F, Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Stokke BG (2010) Coevolution in action: Disruptive selection on egg colour in an avian brood parasite and its host. PLoS One 5:e10816View ArticlePubMed CentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Yang C, Antonov A, Cai Y, Stokke BG, Moksens A, Røskaft E, Liang W (2012a) Large hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides parasitism on the Chinese babax Babax lanceolatus may be an evolutionarily recent host-parasite system. Ibis 154:200–204View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Yang C, Liang W, Antonov A, Cai Y, Stokke BG, Fossøy F, Moksnes A, Røskaft E (2012b) Diversity of parasitic cuckoos and their hosts in China. Chinese Birds 3:9–32View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Yang C, Cai Y, Liang W (2013a) Egg mimicry of common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) utilizing ashy-throated parrotbill (Paradoxornis alphonsianus) host. Chinese Birds 4:51–56View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Yang C, Stokke BG, Antonov A, Cai Y, Shi S, Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Møller AP, Liang W, Grim T (2013b) Host selection in parasitic birds: are open-cup nesting insectivorous passerines always suitable cuckoo hosts? J Avian Biol 44:216–220View ArticleGoogle Scholar
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.