One Walked Past the Cuckoo’s Nest!
Posted on April 25, 2019
I heard the first cuckoo of the spring today, which is always a nice thing. The call of the cuckoo is a sign that summer is nearly here; they make the long journey from Africa just to be with us. Listen to the video below; I made it all by myself.
Cuckoos actually get some quite sinister press. The term, ‘A cuckoo in the nest’ means a person who doesn’t belong and is not welcome. This comes from the, shall we say, unusual breeding habits of this summer visitor.
Cuckoos are ‘brood parasites’. This means that they lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. A female seeks a nest for her eggs and then studies it. When it is left unattended, she zips in, nicks one of the eggs already there, lays one of her own and legs it (well, flies it). She does this in the same amount of time Usain Bolt takes to run 100 meters. Even more impressively, she does this around 50 times…the slag!
‘Don’t other birds realise what is going on?’ I hear you cry with rabid anticipation. Well, here is where it is really clever. Each female cuckoo is an expert on which bird to target. This allows the cunning bitch to lay eggs that are replicas of the ones she has nicked. Totally mugged off, the nest owner incubates them as if they were their own (this is better than EastEnders).
The evil deceit doesn’t end at that point. The cuckoo chick will hatch about 12 days after the egg is laid. Guess what happens then? It starts to attack its adopted siblings. That’s right, when the baby cuckoo hatches, it is a born shitbag. It instantly smashes up any other eggs of the host, or kills any hatched birds. Three times the size if its adopted siblings it is a complete bully, getting all the food to itself.
Again, like an episode of EastEnders, you would think that the adopted parents would work out that this bastard was not their own by now. I mean, come on, the chick is often bigger than they are! At what point does the dad say ‘Right…who is the Dad of this….this…MONSTER?’
Some say that the noises the chicks make convinces the parents that it is their chick and she/he is just a bit unusual. I would argue that the parents have pumped all their savings into the nest and just can’t afford to split up, so they keep it.
Despite their unpopular tag, cuckoos are not a threat to the ecological system, more just part and parcel of the circle of life. However, modern farming and humans being cretins (as usual) has become a threat to them and their numbers are declining.
They are not the only deceiving, cheating bastards on the living planet. We also have the Conservative Party.
Fortunately, it is also appears to be in decline.