Adaptations of Brood Parasitic Eggs

  • Bård G. StokkeEmail author
  • Frode Fossøy
  • Eivin Røskaft
  • Arne Moksnes
Part of the Fascinating Life Sciences book series (FLS)


This chapter deals with adaptations of brood parasitic eggs, which has received a lot of attention by researchers and naturalists for centuries. Both scientists and laymen are intrigued by the sophisticated traits that are enabling parasites to fool or force their hosts into accepting their eggs. A range of brood parasites have evolved mimetic or cryptic eggs to counter host egg rejection or to counter rejection from competing brood parasites. Mimetic eggs resemble host eggs in appearance. Cryptic eggs may appear non-mimetic to host eggs but tend to blend in with the nest lining or “disappear” in the darkness of the (cavity) nest. Rather than being mimetic or cryptic, parasites may also produce eggs that appear attractive to their hosts. In addition, a thick eggshell and a short incubation time may also be advantageous in relation to their brood parasitic lifestyle. The occurrence and importance of these traits among various brood parasites are discussed.



We want to thank Manuel Soler, Marcel Honza and Francisco Ruiz-Raya for their good and constructive comments that significantly improved the quality of the text.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bård G. Stokke
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Frode Fossøy
    • 1
    • 3
  • Eivin Røskaft
    • 1
  • Arne Moksnes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of Terrestrial EcologyNorwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)TrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Department of Aquatic EcologyNorwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)TrondheimNorway

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