As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday 22 March 2014

The Stinky Way Cuckoo Birds Earn Their Keep

By Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer | March 20, 2014 03:26pm ET

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.

Researchers were studying carrion crows in Spain when they noticed a strange pattern. When cuckoos were present at a crow's nest, the nest had lower chances of being predated by feral cats and birds of prey. And when threatened, the baby cuckoos released a stinky secretion, which seemed to deter the predators.

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