I recently photographed this Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo in Kraeng Krachan National Park. April and May are particularly good for Cuckoo's and they seem easier to see than at other times of the year, not sure why. One interesting fact about this parasitic cuckoo is that the nestling, having forcibly evicted the other chicks from the nest, displays mouth like patches under its wings to fool the poor host bird into believing there are more chicks in there. Thus increasing the feeding rate!
Thanks for sharing this. Somebody once told me about a cuckoo species' chick that had fake mouth patches on the wings but he did not know which species and therefore I did not know if it occured in Thailand. Besides this Hodgon's Hawk-Cuckoo, are there any others that do the same? Perhaps all the hawk-cuckoos?
I love these type of facts that show the power of evolution. It's what nature makes so exciting.
I was also told that some cuckoo species' chicks have harmonically complex voices that make one chick sound like a choir of multiple chicks. Also to increase feeding rate.
Fascinating group of birds.
There are about 18 species of cuckoo to be seen in Thailand and they vary from resident species to winter visitors and wet season breeding visitors. The most common one is the Koel, a parasitic cuckoo that is probably responsible for waking you up in the morning with its characteristic Kaaa Wow call, in Thai its call Nok Kawow and its starts early, about 4.00AM. That's another odd thing about cuckoos, they call at night even though they are not actually active.
We talked about the wing patches encouraging the surrogate parent to keep feeding but there is another technique employed by some cuckoos and that's to imitate a variety of nestlings calls thus fooling the parent into thinking there is still one hungry one in there. Another common question is why doesn't the parent cuckoo push the other birds eggs out of the nest after laying its own in there? Answer is that the majority of birds will abandon a nest with only one egg in it, not worth the effort. However, they will never abandon a single chick.
And here's another interesting fact: the young chick, faced with the task of getting rid of the competition, has a special curved dip in its back into which it maneuvers the other birds eggs before pushing them up and over the rim of the nest. Smart birds these!
While on Cuckoo's, I got a photo of a cuckoo at Krung Ching that I initially put down as a female Plantive Cuckoo but it just does not look right.
The photo was taken in the usual poor light and through vegetation so is somewhat blurred by leaves and stuff in the way .