We’re sorry, something doesn't seem to be working properly.

Please try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, please contact support so we can address the problem.

We’re sorry, something doesn't seem to be working properly.

Please try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, please contact support so we can address the problem.

Advertisement

Wing-shaking and wing-patch as nestling begging strategies: their importance and evolutionary origins

We’re sorry, something doesn't seem to be working properly.

Please try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, please contact support so we can address the problem.

Abstract

Avian chicks use different begging strategies when soliciting parental care. A novel begging strategy was recently observed in Horsfield’s hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus (=Cuculus fugax). Chicks of this brood-parasitic species raise and shake their wings and display to fosterers a gape-coloured patch on the undersides of their wings. Although the gape-coloured wing-patch may be a unique trait of Horsfield’s hawk-cuckoo, wing-shaking in the context of begging is virtually universal in both brood parasites and their hosts. A simple qualitative comparison across different avian taxa suggests that wing-shake begging is most probably an ancestral feature of cuckoos and perhaps all altricial birds. The wing-shaking may be an honest signal of chick quality. It could also reduce the risk of predation if wing-shaking was coupled with reduced loudness of begging. Horsfield’s hawk-cuckoo chicks could have exploited the universal pre-existing host responsiveness to wing-shake begging. Evolution could have then further proceeded by making the wing-shaking more conspicuous by addition of another stimulus—the unique colourful wing-patch. I also hypothesize that wing-shake begging may have evolved from pre-fledging restlessness and is used secondarily in courtship displays, threatening postures, and distraction displays by adults. Further discussions and tests of these hypotheses may facilitate research into the so far unstudied phylogenetic history of avian chick-begging strategies.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Alvarez F (2004) The conspicuous gape of the nestling common cuckoo Cuculus canorus as a supernormal stimulus for rufous bush chat Cercotrichas galactotes hosts. Ardea 92:63–68

  2. Armstrong EA (1965) Bird display and behaviour. Dover, New York

  3. Budden AE, Wright J (2001) Falling on deaf ears: the adaptive significance of begging in the absence of a parent. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 49:474–481

  4. Cramp S (ed) (1985) Birds of the Western Palearctic, vol 4. Oxford University Press, Oxford

  5. Davies NB (2000) Cuckoos, cowbirds and other cheats. T. & A.D. Poyser, London

  6. Davies NB, Kilner RM, Noble DG (1998) Nestling cuckoos, Cuculus canorus, exploit hosts with begging calls that mimic a brood. Proc R Soc Lond B 265:673–678

  7. Dearborn DC, Lichtenstein G (2002) Begging behaviour and host exploitation in parasitic cowbirds. In: Wright J, Leonard ML (eds) The evolution of begging: competition, cooperation and communication. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 361–387

  8. Dawkins R (1989) The selfish gene. Oxford University Press, Oxford

  9. Frith CB (1982) Displays of Count Raggi’s Bird-of-Paradise Paradisaea raggiana and congeneric species. Emu 81:193–201

  10. Gill FB (1990) Ornithology. W.H. Freeman, New York

  11. Glutz von Blotzheim UN, Bauer KM (eds) (1980) Handbuch der Vögel Mitteleuropas, vol. 9. Columbiformes—Piciformes. Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, Wiesbaden

  12. Goodwin D (1982) Estrildid finches of the world. British Museum, London

  13. Götmark F, Ahlström M (1997) Parental preference for red mouth in a songbird. Proc R Soc Lond B 264:959–962

  14. Grim T (2005) Mimicry vs. similarity: which resemblances between brood parasites and their hosts are mimetic and which are not? Biol J Linn Soc 84:69–78

  15. Grim T (2006a) The evolution of nestling discrimination by hosts of parasitic birds: why is rejection so rare? Evol Ecol Res 8:785–802

  16. Grim T (2006b) Cuckoo growth performance in parasitized and unused hosts: not only host size matters. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 60:716–723

  17. Grim T (2007) Equal rights for chick brood parasites. Ann Zool Fennici 44:1–7

  18. Grim T, Honza M (2001) Does supernormal stimulus influence parental behaviour of the cuckoo’s host? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 49:322–329

  19. Harvey PH, Pagel DM (1991) The comparative method in evolutionary biology. Oxford University Press, Oxford

  20. Hauber ME, Ramsey CK (2003) Honesty in host-parasite communication signals: the case for begging by fledgling brown-headed cowbirds Molothrus ater. J Avian Biol 34:339–344

  21. Johnsgard PA (1997) The avian brood parasites. Oxford University Press, New York

  22. Kilham L (1962) Reproductive behaviour of downy woodpeckers. Condor 64:126–133

  23. Kilner R (1995) When do canary parents respond to nestling signals of need? Proc R Soc Lond B 260:343–348

  24. Kilner RM, Johnstone RA (1997) Begging the question: are offspring solicitation behaviours signals of need? Trends Ecol Evol 12:11–15

  25. Kilner RM, Noble DG, Davies NB (1999) Signals of need in parent–offspring communication and their exploitation by the common cuckoo. Nature 397:667–672

  26. Leonard ML, Horn AG (1998) Need and nestmates affect begging in tree swallows. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 42:431–436

  27. Leonard ML, Horn AG (2006) Age-related changes in signalling of need by nestling tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). Ethology 112:1020–1026

  28. Lichtenstein G (2001) Low success of shiny cowbird chicks parasitising rufous-bellied thrushes: chick–chick competition or parental manipulation? Anim Behav 61:401–413

  29. Lott DF (1991) Bronzy sunbirds tolerate intrusion on foraging territories by female golden-winged sunbirds that perform begging display. J Field Ornithol 62:492–496

  30. Malchevsky AS (1987) Kukushka i ee vospitateli. Izdateľstvo Leningradskogo Universiteta, Leningrad

  31. McLean IG (1988) Breeding behaviour of the long-tailed cuckoo on Little Barrier Island. Notornis 35:89–98

  32. Mock DW (2004) More than kin, less than kind. Belknap Press, Harvard

  33. Morehouse EL, Brewer R (1968) Feeding of nestling and fledgling Eastern kingbirds. Auk 85:44–54

  34. O’Brien PH, Dow DD (1979) Vocalizations of nestling noisy miners Manorina melanocephala. Emu 79:63–70

  35. Payne RB (2005) The cuckoos. Oxford University Press, Oxford

  36. Redondo T, Castro F (1992) Signalling of nutritional need by magpie nestlings. Ethology 92:193–204

  37. Sealy SG, Lorenzana JC (1997) Feeding of nestling and fledgling brood parasites by individuals other than the foster parents: a review. Can J Zool 75:1739–1752

  38. Smith TE, Leonard ML, Smith BD (2005) Provisioning rules and chick competition in asynchronously hatching common terns (Sterna hirundo). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 58:456–465

  39. Soler M, Soler JJ, Martinez JG, Moreno J (1999) Begging behaviour and its energetic cost in great spotted cuckoo and its magpie host chicks. Can J Zool 77:1794–1800

  40. Tanaka KD, Morimoto G, Ueda K (2005) Yellow wing-patch of a nestling Horsfield’s hawk cuckoo Cuculus fugax induces miscognition by hosts: mimicking a gape? J Avian Biol 36:461–464

  41. Tanaka KD, Ueda K (2005) Horsfield’s hawk-cuckoo nestlings simulate multiple gapes for begging. Science 308:653–653

  42. Vestjens WJM (1977) Breeding behaviour and ecology of the Australian pelican, Pelecanus conspicillatus, in New South Wales. Aust Wildl Res 4:37–58

  43. Wright J, Leonard ML (eds) (2002) The evolution of begging: competition, cooperation and communication. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht

  44. Wyllie I (1981) The cuckoo. Batsford, London

Download references

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to M.E. Hauber, M. Leonard, V. Remeš, M. Soler, B.G. Stokke, K.D. Tanaka, and anonymous referees for their comments on the manuscript. I thank D. Campbell for correcting the English. My work was supported by grants MSM6198959212 and GACR 206/03/D234.

Author information

Correspondence to Tomáš Grim.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

MPEG 3.69 MB

MPEG 3.69 MB

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Grim, T. Wing-shaking and wing-patch as nestling begging strategies: their importance and evolutionary origins. J Ethol 26, 9–15 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-007-0037-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Begging
  • Brood parasitism
  • Phylogeny
  • Pre-existing preferences
  • Signalling