Volume 9 Issue 1
Nov.  2019
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Laikun Ma, Canchao Yang, Wei Liang. 2018: Hawk mimicry does not reduce attacks of cuckoos by highly aggressive hosts. Avian Research, 9(1): 35. doi: 10.1186/s40657-018-0127-4
Citation: Laikun Ma, Canchao Yang, Wei Liang. 2018: Hawk mimicry does not reduce attacks of cuckoos by highly aggressive hosts. Avian Research, 9(1): 35. doi: 10.1186/s40657-018-0127-4

Hawk mimicry does not reduce attacks of cuckoos by highly aggressive hosts

doi: 10.1186/s40657-018-0127-4

the National Natural Science Foundation of China 31672303

the National Natural Science Foundation of China 31472013

the National Natural Science Foundation of China 31772453

More Information
  • Corresponding author: Wei Liang, liangwei@hainnu.edu.cn
  • Received Date: 31 May 2018
  • Accepted Date: 15 Oct 2018
  • Publish Date: 31 Oct 2018
  • Background Resemblance to raptors such as hawks (Accipiter spp.) is considered to be an adaptive strategy of cuckoos (Cuculus spp.), which has evolved to protect cuckoos against host attacks. However, the effectiveness of the mimicry remains controversial, and is not yet fully studied for highly aggressive hosts.
    Methods We evaluated the effectiveness of sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) mimicry by common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) in oriental reed warblers (Acrocephaus orientalis), which are highly aggressive hosts. Using a both the single and the paired dummy experiment, defense behaviors and attack intensities of oriental reed warblers against common cuckoos, sparrowhawks and oriental turtle doves (Streptopelia orientalis) were assessed.
    Results Oriental reed warblers exhibit strong nest defense behaviors, and such behaviors do not change with breeding stage (i.e., egg stage and nestling stage). Furthermore, assistance from conspecific helpers may increase attack intensities. However, they were deterred from mobbing overall by the presence of the hawk.
    Conclusions Oriental reed warblers are able to distinguish cuckoos from harmless doves. However, they may be deterred from mobbing by the presence of the predatory hawk, suggesting hawk mimicry may be ineffective and does not reduce attacks of cuckoos by highly aggressive hosts.


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