Cuckoo: cheating by nature.

Cuckoo: cheating by nature. Nick Davies.

London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015. Octavo, dustwrapper, colour photographs, line drawings.

Beloved by people as the herald of spring, for many birds the cuckoo is a signal of doom. Known for being a notorious cheat, cuckoos across the world have evolved extraordinary tricks to manipulate other species into raising their young. In this enormously engaging book, naturalist and scientist Nick Davies reveals how cuckoos trick their hosts. Using shrewd detective skills and field experiments, he uncovers an evolutionary arms race, in which hosts evolve better defences against cuckoos and cuckoos, in turn, evolve novel forms of trickery. This is a fascinating corner of Darwin's 'entangled bank', where creatures are continually evolving to keep up with changes in their rivals. Lively field drawings by James McCallum, and remarkable photographs, show cuckoos in action: from the female cuckoo laying her beautifully disguised egg, to the cuckoo chick ejecting the host's eggs and young from the nest to ensure it gets the full attention of its foster parents.
Cuckoo offers a new insight not only into the secret lives of these extraordinary birds, but also into how cheating evolves and thrives in the natural world.

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