I woke at 4.30 this morning. The dawn chorus was going full throttle. At last I heard the cuckoo that I’ve been missing this year.
If you’re somebody with a tendency to think too much, you don’t hear the cuckoo without picturing thisBad cuckoo? But here’s a thing: In 2014 researchers used a16-year dataset to find that crows’ nests with cuckoos were more successful overall than cuckoo-free nests. The researchers attributed this to a repulsive stink that cuckoo chicks can secrete when attacked by predators. It seems the smelly imposter protects the host’s babies too. The relationship between host and cuckoo might not be purely parasitic after all. It’s yet another example of the beautiful complexity of interactions in the natural world.*
*via Wikipedia (naturally) AAAS Science: Parasitic Cuckoos Provide Nest Protection for Crow Hosts, 20 March 2014