The Avian Brood Parasites: Deception at the Nest

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byPaul A. Johnsgard

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The evolutionary, ecological and behavioral questions posed by obligate brood parasites are among the most intriguing of all contemporary ornithological topics. Avian brood parasites lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and may be a major contributing factor driving several species ofsongbirds to near extinction. As one of the first books to present a comprehensive overview of this fascinating phenomenon, this work discusses the comparative biology and co-evolutionary adaptations exhibited by the five families of birds that engage in such behavior. Several chapters dealing withthe comparative biology of both intraspecific and interspecific brood parasites, are followed by individual accounts of all known species--nearly 100 altogether, primarily cowbirds and cuckoos. Some of the more remarkable behavioral and structural adaptations of these birds include egg mimicry,juvenile mimicry, elimination by starvation or actual attack of other nestlings or host eggs, and even the learning and partial mimicry of host song traits. An extended glossary, a list of Latin names, 400 literature citations and range maps of all parasitic species discussed are also included.Detailed line drawings by the author enhance this synthesis of biological and ecological information.

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The evolutionary, ecological and behavioral questions posed by obligate brood parasites are among the most intriguing of all contemporary ornithological topics. Avian brood parasites lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and may be a major contributing factor driving several species ofsongbirds to near extinction. As one of the fi...

Paul A. Johnsgard is at University of Nebraska.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:424 pages, 9.29 × 6.5 × 0.98 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195110420

ISBN - 13:9780195110425

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Table of Contents

PrefacePart I. Comparative Biology1. An Overview of Brood Parasitism2. Eco-morphology and Interspecific Mimicry3. Behavioral and Reproductive Ecology4. Breeding Behavior5. Host Retaliation: The Co-evolutionary Arms RacePart II. The Avian Brood Parasites6. Waterfowl (Family Anatidae)7. Honeyguides (Family Indicatoridae)8. Old World Cuckoos (Family Cuculidae)9. American Ground-cuckoos (Family Neomorphidae)10. African Parasitic Finces (Family Passeridae)11. Parasitic Cowbirds (Tribe Icterini)AppendixesA. GlossaryB. Latin Names of Birds Mentioned in the TextReferencesTaxonomic Index

Editorial Reviews

"Provides a comprehensive overview of the behavioral and reproductive ecology of brood parasitism. Makes a special effort to summarize the sparse literature on what is known or conjectured about the many little-known species of brood parasites. An impressive effort to provide a solid referencebase for future research efforts into this unusual form of parasitism." -- Northeastern Naturalist, Vol 7, No 3, 2000