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Pallid cuckoo

Pallid cuckoo

Pallid cuckoo, Cuculus pallidus, IMG 0235 - The pallid cuckoo, in common with other cuckoos, is a parasitic species. It considers almost any nest to be an inviting place in which to lay its eggs, and around 80 species of birds have been recorded as victims of the anti-social behaviour that makes the pallid cuckoo a neighbour that’s as welcome as a swarm of wasps in a nudist colony.

The female of the species does what all cuckoos do once they’ve found a suitable nest - she tosses out one of the eggs of the nest’s owner, replaces it with her own, and hastily flees from the scene of the crime. When the bird whose egg has been destroyed returns to the nest, she settles down to incubate the eggs with maternal devotion and remains blissfully ignorant of the dirty deed perpetrated by the villain of the story.

The cuckoo’s egg is usually the first to hatch, and the tiny chick instinctively hurls any remaining eggs out of the nest, thus ensuring that it will be the sole beneficiary of every mouthful of food delivered by its doting foster parents. And despite the fact that the cuckoo soon becomes far larger than the adult birds that have raised it, they continue to feed the ever-growing young bird with seemingly no concept of the fact that they’ve been duped.

This bird was photographed in outback New South Wales.

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