Egg‐morphs and host preference in the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus): an analysis of cuckoo and host eggs from European museum collections

  title={Egg‐morphs and host preference in the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus): an analysis of cuckoo and host eggs from European museum collections},
  author={Arne Moksnes and Eivin r. {\O}Skaft},
  journal={Journal of Zoology},
An examination of about 12000 clutches of European passerines that contained eggs of the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), held in museum egg-collections, revealed statistically significant correlations between the cuckoo and the host eggs within a clutch in volume, ground colour, and size and percentage coverage of the spots. Although most cuckoo eggs were yellowish, the range in coloration and the percentage coverage of spots indicate that in these respects the cuckoo eggs are distributed… 
Adaptations in the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) to host eggs in a multiple‐hosts system of brood parasitism
The common cuckoo Cuculus canorus parasitism greatly reduces the reproductive success of its hosts and imposes strong selection pressure for hosts to evolve defences against parasitism, such as the
A comparative study of host selection in the European cuckoo Cuculus canorus
The European cuckoo may benefit from selecting hosts with short nestling periods because such hosts provide food for their nestlings at a very high rate.
Continuous Variation Rather than Specialization in the Egg Phenotypes of Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) Parasitizing Two Sympatric Reed Warbler Species
It is hypothesize that such pattern may represent an initial stage of an averaging strategy of cuckoos, that – instead of specializing for specific hosts or exploiting only one host – adapt to multiple hosts.
The common cuckoo Cuculus canorus and its cavity nesting host, the redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus: a peculiar cuckoo‐host system?
It is suggested that redstarts' cavity nesting itself was a factor that reduced the cost of the parasitism dramatically and makes it difficult for the female cuckoo to lay her egg correctly in the nest and it is more difficult to evict the host's eggs or nestlings effectively from the nest.
Egg Mimicry in Cuckoos Parasitizing Four Sympatric Species of Acrocephalus Warblers
Results from radio-tracking of Cuckoo females in the study area have shown that host preference does exist, but this preference has not yet been manifested in the evolution of clear Cuckoos egg morphs adapted to the different host species.
The evolution of egg size in the brood parasitic cuckoos
It is not clear that egg size is related to the need to give the cuckoo chick sufficient strength for ejection, but closer size-matching of host eggs in Chrysococcyx may reflect the following: selection to reduce adult body mass to facilitate entry through small domed nest holes to lay, and less need for a large egg, because longer incubation periods in dome-nesting hosts allow the young cuckoos more time to grow before it need eject host eggs.
Brood parasitism and egg matching in the red-chested cuckoo.
Host usage and relative rates of egg matching were investigated in the Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius in southern Africa, using nest record cards and museum collections, indicating that species with large numbers of records are not those with the highest rates of parasitism.
Host species determines egg size in Oriental cuckoo
Differences in egg sizes of Oriental cuckoo phenotypes provide evidence of their adaptations to brood parasitism on small leaf warbler species, and are suggested to be affected by parental care.
European Cuckoo Cuculus canorus parasitism and host's rejection behaviour in a heavily parasitized Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus population
An unusually high frequency (64%) of European Cuckoo Cuculus canorus parasitism was found in Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus clutches in central Hungary, with great variation in both the host and the parasitic egg colour and pattern.
How strong are eggs of the common cuckoo Cuculus canorus?
Analysis of characteristics of a sample of freshly laid eggs of the common cuckoo with two of its major hosts, the reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus and great reed Warbler, and of species with known puncture resistant eggs found that in puncture resistance tests cuckoos eggs tolerated on average 231 g and this trait probably represents an adaptation for a brood parasitic life style.


Three results suggest that the egg discrimination by suitable hosts has evolved in response to cuckoo parasitism, and Species unsuitable as hosts mainly showed little if any rejection of model eggs unlike their own.
Cuckoo host interactions in Norwegian mountain areas
This study shows that a mean of 1.5 eggs were probably removed per parasitized host nest, indicating that individual female Cuckoos have the opportunity to use several species as hosts, depending on the colour and shape of the host's eggs.
Brood Parasitism by the Cuckoo Cuculus canorus in Japan and the Start of New Parasitism on the Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyana
Potential host species of the Cuckoo in Japan, frequency of parasitism in central Honshu, and the process of the establishiment of a new parasitic relation with the Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica
Behavioural Responses of Potential Hosts Towards Artificial Cuckoo Eggs and Dummies
The results of this study lend support to the hypothesis that the differences in the degree of responses by the host species towards parasitism by the cuckoo reflect different stages in a continuous coevolutionary arms race with cuckoos.
Heavy Brood Parasitism by the Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus on the Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyana
Azure-winged Magpies suffered heavy brood parasitism by Common Cuckoos probably because of the short history of the host-parasite relationship between them, which is as a result of a recent expansion of their breeding areas in Nagano Prefecture.
Egg mimicry by cuckoos Cuculus canorus in relation to discrimination by hosts
It is shown by experiment that host discrimination against badly matching eggs is a selective force in gens maintenance and that cuckoos lay a better mimetic egg where the host species is apparently more discriminating.
Responses of some rare Cuckoo hosts to mimetic model Cuckoo eggs and to foreign conspecific eggs
Responses of Willow Warblers, Reed Buntings and Bluethroats towards mimetic model eggs were similar to those previously reported for non-mimetic eggs, providing an explanation for their present status as only rare hosts of the Cuckoo.
Why are cuckoos host specific
This work suggests that the second alternative provides the more convincing explanation with regard to host specialization in cuckoos and that host defences in these essentially one-on-one host/parasite systems may operate as a density-dependent control on cuckoo numbers rather than as a continuing influence on the morphology of the cuckoff egg.