Subject: Bronze-cuckoos
From: (Andrew Taylor)
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003 11:26:41 +1000
On Wed, Sep 03, 2003 at 09:45:24AM +1000, jilldening wrote:
> Bill's posting makes me wonder: have parasitic cuckoos ever been observed to
> raise their own young? Are they capable of building a nest, and if not, why
> not? If they ever built nests and raised their own young in times past, I
> wonder how far back they abandoned the practice. I don't expect anyone will
> be able to answer this, but it's an interesting question to me.

The majority of cuckoos, e.g. Coucals, always raise their young
themselves, a few species may parasitize other species or raise young
themselves, within-species parasitism occurs in a few species and about
40 species are obligate interspecifc brood parasites - they rely on
other species to raise their young.

Cuckoos must stem from a species with parent care.  There is debate
about how many times brood parasitism evolved within the cuckoos.
It also evolved at least 5 other times in other groups.  There are
suggestions that some or all cuckoo species which raise their young
had an ancestor which was a brood-parasite.  There are suggestions that
ecological changes may have produced obligate brood parasitism and then
co-evolution with the host-species became important.  There might be a
link betwen cooperative breeding and the evolution of brood parasitism.
I haven't seen an estimate of when brood parasitism arose in the cuckoos
- I assume it'd be 10+ million years ago and outside Australia.


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