Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature

Cuckoo Cheating by Nature The familiar call of the common cuckoo cuck oo has been a harbinger of spring ever since our ancestors walked out of Africa many thousands of years ago However for naturalist and scientist Nick Dav

  • Title: Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature
  • Author: Nicholas B. Davies James McCallum
  • ISBN: 9781620409527
  • Page: 226
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The familiar call of the common cuckoo, cuck oo, has been a harbinger of spring ever since our ancestors walked out of Africa many thousands of years ago However, for naturalist and scientist Nick Davies, the call is an invitation to solve an enduring puzzle how does the cuckoo get away with laying its eggs in the nests of other birds and tricking them into raising youThe familiar call of the common cuckoo, cuck oo, has been a harbinger of spring ever since our ancestors walked out of Africa many thousands of years ago However, for naturalist and scientist Nick Davies, the call is an invitation to solve an enduring puzzle how does the cuckoo get away with laying its eggs in the nests of other birds and tricking them into raising young cuckoos rather than their own offspring Early observers who noticed a little warbler feeding a monstrously large cuckoo chick concluded the cuckoo s lack of parental care was the result of faulty design by the Creator, and that the hosts chose to help the poor cuckoo These quaint views of bad design and benevolence were banished after Charles Darwin proposed that the cuckoo tricks the hosts in an evolutionary battle, where hosts evolve better defenses against cuckoos and cuckoos, in turn, evolve better trickery to outwit the hosts.For the last three decades, Davies has employed observation and field experiments to unravel the details of this evolutionary arms race between cuckoos and their hosts Like a detective, Davies and his colleagues studied adult cuckoo behavior, cuckoo egg markings, and cuckoo chick begging calls to discover exactly how cuckoos trick their hosts For birding and evolution aficionados, Cuckoo is a lyrical and scientifically satisfying exploration of one of nature s most astonishing and beautiful adaptations.

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      226 Nicholas B. Davies James McCallum
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      Posted by:Nicholas B. Davies James McCallum
      Published :2020-02-27T03:33:41+00:00

    About "Nicholas B. Davies James McCallum"

    1. Nicholas B. Davies James McCallum

      Nick Davies often N.B Davies is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society.


    1. I think I've been dangerously close to becoming a Cuckoo Bore whilst reading this book. My family are now all cuckoo experts too! Who knew that a book solely about one particular bird could be so fascinating?I've heard the cuckoo calling many times each Spring although I've never seen one. Apart from knowing that they lay their eggs in other birds nests - and that's where their parenting duties cease - I couldn't have told you any more about them.Davies has rectified my ignorance with a scientif [...]

    2. Nick Davies is a top-scientist (he is a Fellow of the Royal Society), and a birder, and he was the external examiner for my PhD. So, he’s quite a guy.I remember once walking down Tennis Court Road in Cambridge, heading to see a flock of Waxwings which were reported to be nearby. I encountered Nick coming back from having seen them and in our chat he told me that he had noticed that the Waxwings tended to eat about three berries and then take a break from eating. He watches birds and sees thing [...]

    3. I loved reading this book. It's about cuckoos. It's about the British countryside. Reading it abroad I became wistful for the UK.The book is also about natural selection and the 'arms race' of evolution between cuckoos and the 'hosts' they choose to raise their young. It's a brilliant discussion, evidentially based, of natural selection and it gives insight into the millenial scale of processes involved in survival. It's also a ode (nearly a love letter) to the scientific method.These huge theme [...]

    4. Some very interesting findings in this book, and I learned many things. Some examples:1) Cuckoos are not the only birds who parasitise other birds' nests - there are quite a number of other birds which do that!2) Some birds practise partial parasitism (i.e. they raise the majority of their young but drop a few eggs from their brood into other birds' nests).3) Cuckoos have "favourite hosts" (i.e. they tend to select only certain species to parasitise).4) There are different "races" of cuckoo, and [...]

    5. I wish that all science books could be this accessible (since I don't have a science background). It's fascinating. The cuckoo lays its egg in the nest of another bird (a smaller one) and takes one of the existing eggs and swallows it and does it all in less than 10 seconds. The cuckoo has to time the laying just right so that the cuckoo is born just before the eggs of the host bird hatch and then the chick dumps all the eggs out of the nest. I'm fascinated and sort of appalled at the image of t [...]

    6. Simply brilliant. I heard Nick Davies talking about cuckoos at Niddfest (a wonderful literary festival based in Nidderdale celebrating nature in writing), and this is where I bought the book. I'm not a scientist, but the story of how observers and scientists of various kinds have pieced together the story of the cuckoo is a fascinating one. So is the account of how cuckoos, their offsprings' inadvertent nurse-maids, and various other creatures who assume similar behaviour patterns, play out thei [...]

    7. Ah, nature, red in tooth and claw! This is an intriguing, readable book for a general audience about nest parasitism in the cuckoo, with references to other nest parasites such as moorhens, honeyguides, and even a species of fish. Be aware that Davies focuses on nest parasitism research, so those who want detailed information about cuckoo speciation, migration, and conservation will be referred to the Further Reading section at the back.

    8. One of my favourite pastimes is bird watching but I haven't read many books about them. I'm not particularly scientific but I thought this book looked very interesting.I've never seen or heard a cuckoo before but they are an intriguing bird; a parasite race who lay their eggs in the nests of birds belonging to other species.It was very interesting to learn more about how the cuckoo is such a successful parasite and how the process of evolution helped both the cuckoo and their victims adapt to tr [...]

    9. First off, I'm impressed that I managed to finish this book. I consider it a testament to the content and writing, that I actually enjoyed reading this book about cuckoos - a bird which before now I was wholly uninterested in. I picked this up from the library's new acquisitions page as a way to get in touch with that biology minor I'm not using at all right now, and I am pleased to say that it was worth the read. While there is more than just a touch of Cambridge pretentiousness sprinkled throu [...]

    10. This is a fantastic book by a leading expert on animal behaviour and ecology. I knew a little about the subject but discovered lots of things I didn't know.The author manages to convey a scientific topic without any jargon, that is easy to understand. Included in the book are discussions about the evolution between the cuckoo parasite and its chosen prey, the defence strategies and how the cuckoo evolved to overcome them. I didn't even realise before this book that not all cuckoos behave in the [...]

    11. I've been reading Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature slowly over the last few months. A truly eye opening and fascinating book. Here's a little nugget to whet the appetite. When Edward Jenner submitted a paper to the Royal Society in 1788 detailing his observations of a cuckoo chick ejecting host chicks from the nest Sir Joseph Banks rejected the paper with the comment " Council thought it best to give you full scope for altering it" they just couldn't believe such a thing could be true. The more ornith [...]

    12. This book, covering in detail the lengths both cuckoos and their hosts have gone to in the evolutionary war of adaptation to deceive versus counter-adaptation to detect, is fascinating. It answers many questions about cuckoo behaviour, bar, perhaps, the first one. Why would a bird start parasitising other birds' nests in the first place? There are hints towards this, but I feel this question could have been better brought out.

    13. Cuckoos and their host birds are a fascinating subject. I love how Davies describes the co-evolution arms race between them. His 30 + years of field work is just amazing. And finding out there is a cuckoo duck(!) in South America that is way less murderous than cuckoo chicks are? -- that's just gravy.

    14. A great story of the evolutionary war between Cuckoos and their hosts. Davies conducts a series of experiments to take our knowledge of this ancient relationship to the next level. His clever experiments, often time “playing cuckoo” are the highlight of the book.

    15. Amazing story of the cuckoo, a bird that lays eggs in the nests of other species. Fascinating genetics, gruesome avicide, and--occasionally--humorous anecdotes. Not recommended for anyone uncomfortable with the theory of evolution.

    16. If you are interested in cuckoo birds and why/how they lay their eggs in other birds nests and get those birds to raise their chicks, this is the book for you! A lot of information packed in this book.

    17. amazing bird. it's hard not to personify nature's design. what we call "trickery" is just a result of an evolutionary arms race and not some moral or immoral design

    18. A really interesting deep delve into the world of a bird who lays eggs in others' nests and doesn't raise its own chicks.

    19. Thoroughly enjoyed this book! A great insight into behavioural ecology and brood parasitism. it's a very gripping read and very approachable. A brilliant book to start 2017 with!

    20. It took me 30 pages to realize that I have no interest in cuckoo birds or their behavior, and I especially don't care about historical references to them in science and literature.

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