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Chapter 48

The cuckoo belongs to the family Cuculidae, order Cuculformes. The family also includes roadrunners, koels, malkohas and anis. The cuckoos are generally medium-sized, slender birds. The majority are arboreal. They are for the most part solitary birds that

seldom occur in pairs or groups and are generally a shy and retiring family, more often heard than seen. The subfamily Cuclinae are the brood-parasitic cuckoos of the Old World. They are obligate brood parasites, meaning that they lay eggs singly in the nests of the foster parents who rear the young cuckoo. The shells of the eggs of the brood parasite are double layered. The outer layer is usually very thick, resisting cracking when eggs are dropped into the host nest. The cuckoo’s egg hatches earlier than the host’s and the cuckoo’s chick grows faster and in most cases the cuckoo chick evicts the eggs or the chicks of the host species. The chick encourages the host to keep pace with its high growth rate with its rapid begging call and the chick’s open mouth, which serves as a sign stimulus.

It is not known, the behavior of the foster parents or the biological parents if the young cuckoo bird dies before it fledges. It is likely the foster parents mourn. The biological parents, unaware of the loss, perhaps, carry on with life in no apparent distress because that’s just the way things are.

Given a choice, she would have chosen to be from hummingbird progeny rather than cuckoo.

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