Skip to main content
Dryad

Fatal mobbing and attack of the common cuckoo by its warbler hosts

Cite this dataset

Wang, Longwu (2022). Fatal mobbing and attack of the common cuckoo by its warbler hosts [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hx3ffbgj7

Abstract

Nest defence is an effective strategy of hosts against parasites. Typically, hosts will aggressively attack brood parasites that approach or visit their nests, which can prevent the parasites from laying eggs or may even lead to the death of the parasites. Few previous studies have specifically reported such fatal cases involving brood parasites and have attributed the cause of death to either drowning or hypothermia after falling into the water following an attack from hosts. In this study, we recorded the process of multiple host individuals of the Oriental reed warbler (Acrocephalus orientalis) mobbing and attacking a female common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) in the field. We discovered that the immediate cause of the cuckoo’s death was the fatal physical damage resulting from the aggressive defence from the hosts, suggesting that frantic pecking and scratching by the hosts is the most proximate cause of mortality among egg-laying female cuckoos. This finding enhances our essential understanding of the effectiveness of host attacks.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31960105

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 32260253

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31970427

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 32270526