Study reveals how a mother always knows her chicks

A study led by ANU has discovered how a mother knows her chicks and can spot an imposter in her nest, even if it looks almost identical to her chicks.

Brood parasitic cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and abandon their young to the care of the nest's host, leading to significant disruptions to the birds involved.

A research team from ANU and The University of Sydney studied the large-billed gerygone, a small songbird that is invaded by the little bronze-cuckoo, in Cairns, Australia. Large-billed gerygones usually evict cuckoo chicks from their nests within a few hours of hatching.

Senior researcher Professor Naomi Langmore said the study aimed to find out how the large-billed gerygone recognised cuckoo chicks. 

Read the full story at the Australian National University website.

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