Parasitic Behaviour of Interspecific Brood Parasitic Females
Interspecific avian brood parasites have to solve unique problems associated with their reproductive habit: they need to recognize potential hosts, search for and locate their nests, monitor nests progress and return to them at the appropriate time for egg laying. In addition, parasitic females may improve the survival of their own eggs and chicks by removing or destroying part of the clutch content. Lastly, they should remember the nests in which they have laid eggs to avoid laying two or more eggs in the same nest to prevent harming their own previously laid eggs and generating competition between their own offspring. In this chapter, we summarize information on the behaviour of parasitic females from the moment they start searching for host nests until they parasitize them. We review the different hypotheses for explaining the recognition of hosts and the cues used to search for and locate their nests. We also review the different adaptive explanations for the removal or destruction of eggs as well as the information on competition among females for host nests and repeat parasitism.
We thank William Feeney, Tomás Pérez Contreras and Manuel Soler for very helpful comments on a previous version of this chapter.
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