Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology

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Dual parasitism of Fork-tailed Drongos by African and Jacobin Cuckoos §

Tom P Flower, Benjamin J Ashton, Elisabet Zöttl, Ryan M Olinger, Philip AR Hockey†


Different species of brood parasitic birds, which lay their eggs in the nests of host foster-parents, rarely target the same host species population. We report brood parasitism of Fork-tailed Drongos Dicrurus adsimilis in the southern Kalahari Desert by both African Cuckoo Cuculus gularis and Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus serratus. Drongos are the only known host for the African Cuckoo, and were more frequently parasitised by this species (21.8% nests). Nevertheless, parasitism rates suggest that in the Kalahari, drongos are also an important host for Jacobin Cuckoo (4.6% nests). Jacobin Cuckoos likely compete with African Cuckoos for drongo hosts, as exemplified by the occurrence of both African and Jacobin Cuckoo eggs in the same drongo clutch. The drongo’s defensive adaptations to parasitism by African Cuckoos, including egg rejection, may also curtail parasitism by Jacobin Cuckoos. The extent of competition between these cuckoo species and whether they possess adaptations to prevent one another’s access to drongo hosts remains to be explored.

Keywords: alloxenia, brood parasitism, coevolution, host selection, offspring competition

AJOL African Journals Online