Killing other children and chewing other old people, this bird has been a "devil" since childhood.

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Killing other children and chewing other old people, this bird has been a "devil" since childhood.

2019-04-07 08:03:39 601 ℃
After spring and summer, we often hear a melodious and euphemistic sound of "Bugu and Bugu". This comes from what we often call cuckoo, also known as cuckoo.

Today's leading role Rhododendron grandis. Picture: Vogelartinfo / Wikimedia

< p > < strong > Big Rhododendron's call comes from the species calendar < EM > 00:00 < EM > 00:28

< p > Big Rhododendron's call. Audio: Romuald Mikusek/

The English name cuckoo of cuckoo originated from Cucucu in ancient French, then appeared in the form of cuccu in the ancient English poem Sumer Is Icumen In; its scientific name can be traced back to Cuculus in Linnay's Natural System. American ornithologist Alexander Wetmore established Cuculiformes in A Systematic Classification for the Birds of the World, which has been used up to now. There are more than 136 species of Rhododendron birds in the world and 20 species in China. There are many names of cuckoos in ancient Chinese books, such as the dove [sh ji], the twin [jij], the grain poking, the rules, the Shu bird, the Wangdi, and so on. For example, Cao Feng in the Book of Songs recorded the mimicry of cuckoos and eagles as "the dove is in the mulberry and its son is in the seventh place"; The Bird Classic described the mimicry of cuckoos and eagles as "the mid-spring festival, the eagle turns into the dove" and "the Mid-Autumn festival, the dove turns into the eagle"; The Southern Dynasty Jingchu Chronicle described that "April also has the bird's name, which calls itself" and recorded the song of cuckoos vividly. In addition, there are numerous poems about cuckoos, such as < strong > Wang Di Chunxin Tuo Cuckoo, and < strong > Zigui Tiao. In the legend of

, Du Yu, king of the ancient Shu Kingdom, turned into a cuckoo after his death. The picture shows the genus Rhododendron of Rhododendron family (< EM > Eudynamys scolopaceus ). Picture: Ravi Vaidyanathan

In Europe, rhythmic rhythmic rhythmic Rhododendron sounds are loaded into clocks and clocks are made into wooden pendulums --< strong > cuckoo bells . The Cuckooland Museum in Britain has more than 700 cuckoo clocks of different styles and sizes. It shows the development and evolution of cuckoo clocks from the eighteenth century to the present, which shows the love of cuckoos abroad.

The Cuckoo is hidden behind the door on the clock in the collection of the Cuckoo Bell Museum. Photo: Kirsty Davies

tireless migrants

Among many azaleas, perhaps the most famous one is the big azalea (Cuculus canorus). Rhododendron is a small and medium-sized bird with a body length of about 28-37 cm. It looks like a pigeon, but is slender than a pigeon. It feeds mainly on insects. They are distributed in Europe, Asia and Africa, and < strong > is mainly summer migratory bird in China, all over the country.

Rhododendron grandis. Photo:

2016, Beijing Cuckoo Project, launched by Chinese and British ornithologists and birdwatching enthusiasts, found that the migration distance of Rhododendron grandis can reach 12000 km by wearing satellite trackers.

Migration roadmap of three Rhododendrons. Photo: Google Map

For cuckoos, the Compendium of Materia Medica has such a record: "The kite dove can not be a nest, live in his nest and have children". Here we describe the < strong > nest parasitism behavior of Rhododendron. Nest parasitism refers to that birds do not build nests themselves, lay eggs in nests of other birds , and the host replaces the reproductive mode of hatching , including interspecific nest parasitism (parasitoids and hosts are different species) and intraspecific nest parasitism (parasitoids and hosts are the same species). There are more than 100 kinds of nest-parasitic behavior in more than 10,000 birds nowadays, the most typical of which is Rhododendron grandis.

well-known conspirator

How does Rhododendron macrorhododendron parasitize its nest? Does the host have an anti-parasitic strategy? The < strong > co-evolution between parasitic birds and their hosts has attracted the attention of many ornithologists and the public. The camouflage of adult birds

< strong> < p> < p > Rhododendron has many similarities in size, shape and feather color with small and fierce birds of prey (< EM > Accipiter nisus ). Sparrowhawk is the predator of many small birds. Researchers found that the big tits (< EM > Parus major ) and the green finches (< EM > P. caeruleus ) had the same natural enemy alarm calls to these two models by placing models of cuckoo and Sparrowhawk beside the feeder. Through this camouflage, Rhododendron grandis can confuse and deter its host.

Rhododendron grandis (left) and Sparrowhawk (right). Photo:;

Studies also found that female rhododendrons can mimic the calls of sparrowhawks to deter their hosts and make them more alert, forcing them to leave their nests . Therefore, Rhododendron can obtain more spawning time and improve the success rate of nest parasitism.

How to choose host

In Europe, there are 125 host species of Rhododendron grandis, more than 20 common hosts, mainly reed warbler (< EM > Acrocephalus scirpaceus ), grassland Wren (< EM > Anpratensis ), woodland rock Wren (< EM > Prunella modules ). In China, there are more than 20 host species of Rhododendron, including gray-throated crow sparrow (< EM > Paradox ornis alphonsianus ), North red-tailed owl (< EM > Phoenicurus auroreus ), Oriental reed warbler (< EM > A. orientalis ).

img src="/1ydzximg/0LewFTZ0OK"/

Reed warblers are feeding large cuckoo nestlings. Photo: David Tilling

in the process of host selection, Rhododendron parasitizes by integrating the host's egg recognition ability, reproductive time, habitat quality, nest site characteristics and food factors.

How to deceive the host

Firstly, before parasitizing in the nest, Rhododendron grandis will grab a host egg .

Then the cuckoo lays its own eggs in a very short time, hiding the truth from the sky and crossing the sea. Through egg color simulation, it was found that the eggs laid by Rhododendron are very similar to the host eggs in egg color, markings and so on, except that they are slightly larger. A Hungarian study found that 64% of Oriental reed warblers'nests were parasitized by rhododendrons, and 66% of these individuals could not recognize parasitic eggs. The cuckoo succeeded in deceiving its host.

come together to find stubble, the nests of Oriental Reed Warbler (left) and Sinian Crow Sparrow (right) parasitized by the Great Rhododendron Nest. Pictures: Canchao YANG, et al. /Zoological Research (2014)

and interestingly, the eggs laid by Rhododendron differ in spots and colours, as much as possible to simulate the eggs of the host . Why can the eggs of Rhododendron grandis have different colors like magic? Molecular evidence shows that there are at least 20 < strong > different genotypes in Rhododendron grandis in Europe. Different genotypes of Rhododendron grandis distribute in different geographical locations. Females of each genotype can only lay one egg and choose their corresponding hosts.

img src="/1ydzximg/0LewFT2i02"/>p>The eggs of Rhododendron and its host (left: Reed Warbler; right: Oriental Reed Warbler). Pictures: Csaba Moskt, et al. / em>Chinese Birds (2012)

How to choose the right time to lay eggs

Rhododendron grandis usually lay eggs after the first egg is laid by the host. If the host lays eggs before laying eggs (there is only one egg in the nest at this time), parasitic eggs are easily thrown away by the host , which is not conducive to the parasitism of Rhododendron. So how does Rhododendron know when the host lays eggs?

Czech scientists installed small radio transmitters on thirteen large cuckoos. Radio tracing showed that the time spent by Rhododendron cuckoo visiting the host nest increased significantly on the day of oviposition, indicating that they had been seizing the "opportunity to commit a crime" to ensure their oviposition synchronized with the host by increasing the time of < strong > peep . Usually birds need 20 to 60 minutes to lay eggs, but < strong > azaleas only need 10 seconds to lay eggs , so they can avoid being found by their hosts.

dark observation. Photo: Uncle Xiaoye

was born as a "devil"

after spawning successfully, because the embryos in the big azalea eggs have partially developed, their nestlings usually take the lead in shell . After shelling, big cuckoo nestlings will complete the unfinished "career" of their biological mother, and "arch out" the host's eggs < strong > "out" of the nest

seems to be an instinct for the newly born cuckoo to use its own back and try to arch the aborigines out of the nest. Picture: Artur Homan/youtube

Even when the baby grows older than the adoptive parents, the adoptive parents seem to know nothing about it. Picture: Artur Homan / YouTube

< p> < strong > The owner can only sit and die? The nest parasitic behavior of

< p> greatly reduces the reproductive efficiency of the host, which is a kind of selective pressure for the host. In order to survive and reproduce, the host also evolved corresponding anti-nest parasitic strategies , such as identification of azaleas, identification of eggs, and increasing the concealment of nests. Identification of Rhododendron by

Some hosts will resist and prevent the parasitism of Rhododendron if they find the existence of Rhododendron around the nest. It was found that the reed warbler could accurately identify the cuckoo and sparrow hawk, and take < strong > attack and < strong > drive measures to protect its nest from parasitism.

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Wetland Reed Warbler (A.palustris) is fighting with Rhododendron grandis. Photo: Kerstin Hinze/

Recognition of eggs

Because the cost of parasitization is too high, some hosts gradually grasp the ability of to identify eggs in the process of playing with azaleas. They can identify eggs of azaleas well as throw them away in time through the characteristics of the bottom color, the distribution, size and shape of the eggs. This recognition ability may come from parental inheritance or acquired learning. The lead sparrow in the video

hesitated to observe for a long time and finally lost its "simulated egg" in its nest at 55 seconds. Video: Some hosts of Sutongping

nest concealment

will build nests in very concealment or caves where azaleas are not easily accessible and cover their eggs when the parent birds leave the nest, or prolong the time sitting in the nest to reduce the risk of parasitism. < p > < p > < br > < / P > < p > < strong > other nests