Discover Magazine reports that Fair Wrens teach their unborn chicks a thing or two, also.
|Fairy Wren father with 2 chicks|
It was a good call. The bird in their nest was a Horsfields' bronze-cuckoo. These birds are “brood parasites” – they lay their eggs in those of other birds, passing on their parenting duties to some unwitting surrogates. The bronze-cuckoo egg looks very much like a fairy-wren egg, although it tends to hatch earlier. The cuckoo chick then ejects its foster siblings from the nest, so it can monopolise its foster parents’ attention.
|Dr Diane Colombelli-Negrel|
Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos lay their eggs too late in the breeding cycle for their chicks to pick up the same notes. They can’t learn the password in time, and their identities can be rumbled.
This is one of many incredible adaptations in the long-running battle between birds and their brood parasite. As these evolutionary arms races continue, the parasites typically become ever better mimics, and the hosts typically become ever more discerning parents."
Read the rest at http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2012/11/08/fairy-wrens-teach-secret-passwords-to-their-unborn-chicks-to-tell-them-apart-from-cuckoo-impostors/
The original research is available only to subscribers of Current Biology".