Date: June 11, 2015
Source: Australian National University
Summary: Cuckoo finches in Africa have adopted a unique disguise to help them lay their eggs in other birds' nests, biologists have found.
The cuckoo finch in Zambia has evolved to be almost indistinguishable from common and harmless female weaver birds, such as the southern red bishop, said Dr William Feeney, from The Australian National University (ANU).
"The cuckoo finch is so similar to the innocent bishops, that the target of the trickery, the tawny-flanked prinia, cannot tell them apart," said Dr Feeney, who did his PhD at the ANU Research School of Biology before taking a position at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
"The cuckoo finch looks a lot more similar to the bishop than its nearest relatives, the Vidua finches, suggesting that it has evolved to be able to hang around prinia nests without arousing suspicion," he said.