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If you could sum up Cuckoo in three words, what would they be?
Fascinating revealing and surprising
What about David Thorpe’s performance did you like?
Beautiful illustrations by Thorpe -
Any additional comments?
This is a truly fabulous book that reveals the intricate co-evolution of the parasitic cuckoo and their hosts. Nick Davies has spent 30 years sitting patiently and watching the behavior of both cuckoos and reed warblers on Wicken Fen, a marsh nature reserve north of Cambridge, and then undertaken beautifully designed experiments to reveal the complex and fascinating biology of these and other species. The best defense by the host is to recognize when a cuckoo may try and lay her egg in their nest, then to recognize and reject the egg. Nick has made hundreds of artificial eggs to mimic the eggs of different bird species with different patterns on them that he then slips into the nests to observe when the host rejects and what the cuckoo can get away with. You start to realize the level of biology that is involved and appreciate that most birds eggs with their bright colors and complex squiggles and designed to stop parasitism rather than for camouflage. He asks perceptive questions and answers them with these neat field experiments (no birds were harmed) that reveal so much about the behavior of birds that everyone with a passing interest in birds or natural history will find this book a delight. This is without doubt one of the most enjoyable natural history books I have ever read - and I have several rooms full of natural history books.
This book lovingly explains the cuckoo's strange lifestyle. It is a fascinating story and it turns out not to be counter-intuitive at all, which to me is profound and amazing. Nick Davies gives detail of the methods, historical and contemporary, by which many of the puzzles presented by this remarkable bird have been solved and I now feel like I know everything about Cuckoos there is to know. As he always does, David Thorpe reads brilliantly.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A great book, which outlines the fascinating "arms race" between cuckoo species and their host's.
It is also a poignant reminder of what we have lost, over a very short space of time!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful