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Images of Great Spotted Cuckoo Invaders

Cuckoo and crow

cuckoos

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Vittorio Baglione)

Everyone knows cuckoos are the freeloaders of the animal kingdom, laying their eggs in other birds' nests. But such slackers may not be total parasites. A study of great spotted cuckoos and the carrion crows that raise the cuckoos' young finds that young cuckoos secrete a noxious substance that repels predators that come to attack the nest. These results suggest cuckoos and crows have a mutually beneficial relationship.Read full story

Parasitized

cuckoos

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Vittorio Baglione)

When cuckoos were present at a crow's nest, the nest had lower chances of being predated by feral cats and birds of prey. Read full story

Carrion crow brood

cuckoos

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Vittorio Baglione)

Maybe, the cuckoos were earning their keep, according to the study detailed today (March 20) in the journal Science.Read full story

Baby cuckoo

cuckoos

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Vittorio Baglione)

When threatened, baby cuckoos release a stinky secretion, which seems to deter predators. Read full story

Great spotted cuckoo chick

cuckoos

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Vittorio Baglione)

To test their theory, the researchers moved cuckoos that were in crow's nests to nests without cuckoos. Read full story

Great spotted cuckoo chick

cuckoos

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Vittorio Baglione)

Nests newly occupied by cuckoos had fewer predators attack them than cuckoo-free nests, suggesting the interlopers were, in fact, benefitting the crows.Read full story

Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.