Cuckoos, Cowbirds and Other Cheats (Relié)

Nicholas-B Davies

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  • Paru le : 04/04/2000
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Cuckoos and cowbirds are amongst the select bird groups renowned as professional parasites, who always lay their eggs in the nests of other species. Occasional parasitic laying is also widespread in many other birds, who gladly parasitise the nests of their own kind when the opportunity arises. In this fascinating new book, Nick Davies describes the natural histories of all the brood parasites and examines the exciting questions they raise about the evolution of cheating and the arms race between parasites and their hosts. Brood parasites fill their armoury with adaptations including exquisite egg mimicry, rapid laying, ejection of host eggs, murder of host young, chick mimicry and manipulative begging behaviour: ploys shown by recent research to have evolved in response to host defence behaviour or through competition among the parasites themselves. While many host species appear defenceless, accepting parasite eggs quite unlike their own, others are more discriminating against odd-looking eggs and some have evolved the ability to discriminate against odd-looking chicks as well. How does this arms race proceed? Will defenceless hosts improve their armoury in time, or are there sometimes constraints on hosts which allow the parasites to gain the upper hand? And why are so few species obliged only to lay eggs in host nests? Have host defences limited the success of brood parasitism, or is it in fact much commoner than we suspect, but occurring mainly when birds parasitise the nests of their own kind? All of these puzzles are examined in descriptions of the natural history of each of the groups of parasites in turn. Here is a book with wide appeal, both to amateur naturalists fascinated by this most singular and macabre of behaviours and to ornithologists and ecologists interested in the evolution of ecology and behaviour. The story takes us from the strange tales of folklore to the classic field work earlier this century by pioneer ornithologists such as Edgar Chance, Stuart Baker, Herbert Friedmann and others, through to the recent experimental field work and molecular techniques of today's leading scientists. We visit brood parasites in Europe, Asia, Japan, Africa, Australasia, and North and South America, to look at some of the world's most interesting birds and sortie of biology's most interesting questions, many of which still beg answers from ornithologists in the future. Brilliant illustrations by David Quinn depict many behaviours for the first time and convey the thrill of watching these astonishing birds in the wild.
    • A monstrous outrage on maternal affection
    • One hundred brood parasites and some puzzles
    • The Common Cuckoo and its hosts
    • Co-evolution of host defences and Common Cuckoo trickery
    • How to spot a cuckoo egg
    • Driving parents cuckoo
    • Bronze-cuckoos in Africa and Australia
    • The non-evicting cuckoos: manipulative nestlings and Mafia tactics
    • Cuckoos versus hosts: who wins? The Brown-headed Cowbird and its conquest of North America
    • Old and new hosts of the Brown-headed Cowbird and conservation problems
    • "Shot-gun" Shiny and specialist Screaming Cowbirds, with cowbirds and cuckoos compared
    • The parasitic finches of Africa: mimicry of host chicks and host songs
    • Cheating on your own kind
    • Origins.
  • Date de parution : 04/04/2000
  • Editeur : Poyser T&a.d.
  • ISBN : 0-85661-135-2
  • EAN : 9780856611353
  • Présentation : Relié
  • Nb. de pages : 310 pages
  • Poids : 0.93 Kg
  • Dimensions : 19,5 cm × 26,1 cm × 2,1 cm

Biographie de Nicholas-B Davies

NICK DAVIES is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Pembroke College. He was born on the Lancashire coast, where nightjars and pink-footed geese inspired his passion for bird watching from an early age. After a first degree at Cambridge, be did his doctorate at the Edward Grey Institute, Oxford University, studying the territorial behaviour of Pied Wagtails. He then returned to the Zoology Department at Cambridge, where he did his famous work on the variable mating system of the Dunnock. For the past fifteen years he bas studied the interactions between the Common Cuckoo and its hosts, and his students have worked on other brood parasites, including cuckoos in Africa, cowbirds in South America, and the Moorhen, a species that parasitises its own kind. His previous books include Dunnock Behaviour and Social Evolution and (with John Krebs) An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and his awards include the Medal of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour and a Cambridge University Teaching Prize. Born in Salford in 1959, DAVID QUINN bas been drawing and painting for as long as be can remember. After gaining a BA First Class Honours degree in Graphic Design at Manchester Polytechnic in 1982, he became a freelance illustrator of wildlife subjects. In 1987 be won the 'British Birds' Bird Illustrator of the Year Award. His work bas featured subsequently in very many publications dealing with a wide variety of bird identification issues, and in more Academic studies concerning the biology, behaviour and ecology of birds. Aside from his illustration work, he tries to devote as much time as possible to his paintings for exhibition and private sale, He lives in Cheshire with his wife and son.

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Cuckoos, Cowbirds and Other Cheats
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