SCIENCE

Sparrows parasitize in the nest, imitating their young to trick their parents into feeding

New research has found that African sparrows use incredible evolutionary techniques to trick other birds into raising their babies.

Accordingly, three species of African sparrows lay eggs in the nest of another species. After the eggs hatch, the chicks “copy” the behavior and behavior of the “righteous” chicks.

“This imitation is astonishing because of its complexity and species-specific,” said study author, Dr Gabriel Jamie at Cambridge University.

Working on the steppes in Zambia, researchers gathered images and sounds for four years to discover this parody.

They focus on a group of sparrows appearing over much of Africa called indigobirds and whydahs of the genus Vidua.

Vidua lays eggs into the nest of a particular grass bird. Their hosts then incubate the eggs and feed them with the “scammers” offspring as they hatch.

Through observation, scientists discovered that young indigobirds and whydahs mimic the appearance, sound and movement of young grass sparrows. They also develop colorful motifs inside the mouth like the main.

“When Vidua starts to parasitize in a particular species of weeds, the markings on the mouth do not match very well. However, in the Vidua population there will be a number of genetically identified signs on the oral cavity with some individuals appear closer to the host than other individuals, “said Jamie.

The study also showed that the Vidua had mouth markings that closely resembled the more fed grass sparrows. Therefore, they are easier to survive than others.

“The natural selection process based on a genetically determined alteration in the oral cavity is repeated over generations with the result that the Vidua finches develop more and more mouth markers that match the object.” their owners, “he said.

When the young Vidua sparrows are nurtured and leave the nest, they remain in the care of their biological mother for a short time before becoming completely independent.

“The parent sparrows are not directly harmed in the process, but in the end they waste a lot of time and energy raising a bird of different species,” said Jamie.

However, the researchers also found some “minor defects” in Vidua’s disguise techniques.

For example, in one of the parasite-host pairs examined, the nest Vidua had spots inside the mouth that were larger than its corresponding host. But this feature helps them emit louder and longer “begging” noises.

“This shows that Vidua’s ability to evolve to create an exaggerated version of the host’s appearance and sound,” added Dr Jamie.

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