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.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Birds use Distinct Markings to Avoid being Tricked by Cuckoos: Cambridge Researchers

Some birds have evolved distinct signature patterns to recognize eggs. These markings help the birds fight cuckoo bird invasion, University of Cambridge researchers have found.

The parasitic Common Cuckoo lays its eggs in other birds' nests. Their hatchlings are born murderers, who instinctively push hosts' eggs out of the nest.

Researchers have now found that some birds might counter cuckoos strategy by evolving specific signature for their own brood.

For the study, Dr Mary Caswell Stoddard at the Harvard University and Professor Rebecca Kilner and Dr Christopher Town at the University of Cambridge developed a new computer vision tool called NATUREPATTERNMATCH.

"We harnessed the same computer technology used for diverse pattern recognition tasks, like face recognition and image stitching, to determine what visual features on a bird's eggs might be easily recognised," explained Stoddard in a news release.

Researchers used the tool to examine pigmentation pattern of hundreds of eggs of eight species of birds. These birds are common targets of cuckoos.

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