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Anim Behav. 1997 Nov;54(5):1227-33.

Great spotted cuckoos improve their reproductive success by damaging magpie host eggs

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  • 1Departamento de Biologia Animal y Ecologia, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada


Adult great spotted cuckoos, Clamator glandariusdamage the eggs of their magpie, Pica picahost without removing or eating them. The number of damaged magpie eggs was recorded in 360 parasitized nests of which 62.2% contained between one and eight damaged magpie eggs. Egg-destroying behaviour may be adaptive if it reduces nestling competition and/or enhances the hatching success of the cuckoo. To clarify the role of egg destruction for the reproductive success of great spotted cuckoos, unparasitized magpie nests were experimentally parasitized (without egg damage) by introducing cuckoo eggs or chicks. Egg damage was common in parasitized nests but the eggs were not damaged by the hosts. Egg damage increased the breeding success of the cuckoos, by both reducing the number of competing host chicks in the nest and increasing the likelihood that late-laid cuckoo eggs would hatch.Copyright 1997 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour1997The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

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