Scardamaglia, R.C.; Fiorini, V.D.; Kacelnik, A.; Reboreda, J.C."Planning host exploitation through prospecting visits by parasitic cowbirds" (2017) Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 71(1)
Estamos trabajando para incorporar este artículo al repositorio
Consulte el artículo en la página del editor
Consulte la política de Acceso Abierto del editor


Abstract: We studied visits to potential host nests by two avian brood parasites, the host generalist shiny cowbird, Molothrus bonariensis, and the host specialist screaming cowbird, Molothrus rufoaxillaris, in the periods preceding and overlapping the laying period of their hosts. Our goal was to examine the hypothesis that during prelaying visits, cowbird females form a dynamic memory library of laying opportunities, which they deploy to target suitable nests at a later predawn period. We recorded presence of radio-tagged females within a fixed area around nests of chalked-browed mockingbirds, Mimus saturninus (a common host of shiny cowbirds), and baywings, Agelaioides badius (the main host of screaming cowbirds), using proximity data loggers placed at nests during prelaying, laying and early incubation. Our data confirmed that females of both species visit potential host nests prior to laying and that parasitic events occurred before dawn, earlier in screaming than shiny cowbirds but with little chance of host nests having been discovered on the laying day. There were interesting species differences: visits were less frequent in shiny than screaming cowbirds and the former rarely returned after laying, while screaming cowbirds visited nests repeatedly after laying and occasionally showed repeat parasitism. The higher frequency of revisiting by screaming cowbirds to baywing nests is consistent with the uncommonly long and variable baywing prelaying period, and the incidence of repeat parasitism may reflect low availability of baywing nests and greater flexibility of its parental care potential thanks to it being a social breeder. Significance statement: Avian brood parasites synchronize their laying with that of their hosts, as this reduces egg rejection and optimizes hatching time. They also avoid parasitizing nests repeatedly, thus preventing harm to their own previously laid eggs and competition among their offspring. Further, they lay at dawn, so that location of target nests must be known from previous days’ exploration. It has been argued that these adaptations must depend on memory for the location and status of host nests within their home range, a memory feat known as ‘bookkeeping’. We study nest prospecting in a host specialist and a host generalist parasitic cowbird, using a combination of proximity radio tracking and video recordings. Our results confirm the prospecting hypothesis, report previously unknown interspecies differences and illustrate how cognitive adaptations can be studied in the context of field behavioural ecology. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Documento: Artículo
Título:Planning host exploitation through prospecting visits by parasitic cowbirds
Autor:Scardamaglia, R.C.; Fiorini, V.D.; Kacelnik, A.; Reboreda, J.C.
Filiación:Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución & IEGEBA-CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pabellón II Ciudad Universitaria, Buenos Aires, C1428EGA, Argentina
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Rd, Oxford, OX1-3PS, United Kingdom
Palabras clave:Automated telemetry; Brood parasitism; Molothrus bonariensis; Molothrus rufoaxillaris; Nest searching; adaptive radiation; biotelemetry; brood parasitism; egg rejection; exploitation; generalist; hatching; nest predation; nest site; parental care; passerine; radiotelemetry; specialist; tracking; Aves; Mimus saturninus; Molothrus; Molothrus bonariensis; Molothrus rufoaxillaris
Título revista:Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Título revista abreviado:Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.


  • Alderson, G.W., Gibbs, H.L., Sealy, S.G., Determining the reproductive behaviour of individual brown-headed cowbirds using microsatellite DNA markers (1999) Anim Behav, 58, pp. 895-905. , PID: 10512663
  • Arlt, D., Pärt, T., Post-breeding information gathering and breeding territory shifts in northern wheatears (2008) J Anim Ecol, 77, pp. 211-219. , PID: 18031525
  • Astié, A.A., Reboreda, J.C., Shiny cowbird parasitism of a low quality host: effect of host traits on a parasite’s reproductive success (2009) J Field Ornithol, 80, pp. 224-233
  • Banks, A.J., Martin, T.E., Host activity and the risk of nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds (2001) Behav Ecol, 12, pp. 31-40
  • Bártol, I., Karcza, Z., Moskát, C., Røskaft, E., Kisbenedek, T., Responses of great reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus to experimental brood parasitism: the effects of a cuckoo Cuculus canorus dummy and egg mimicry (2002) J Avian Biol, 33, pp. 420-425
  • Clayton, N.S., Griffiths, D.P., Emery, N.J., Dickinson, A., Elements of episodic-like memory in animals (2001) Philos T Roy Soc B, 356, pp. 1483-1491. , COI: 1:STN:280:DC%2BD3MrisVekug%3D%3D
  • Clayton, N.S., Reboreda, J.C., Kacelnik, A., Seasonal changes of hippocampus volume in parasitic cowbirds (1997) Behav Process, 41, pp. 237-243. , COI: 1:STN:280:DC%2BC2cjpslahsQ%3D%3D
  • Clotfelter, E.D., What cues do brown-headed cowbirds use to locate red-winged blackbird host nests? (1998) Anim Behav, 55, pp. 1181-1189. , PID: 9632503
  • Davies, N.B., (2000) Cuckoos, cowbirds and other cheats, , T & AD Poyser Ltd, London
  • De Mársico, M.C., Gantchoff, M.G., Reboreda, J.C., Host-parasite coevolution beyond the nestling stage? Mimicry of host fledglings by the specialist screaming cowbird (2012) Proc R Soc Lond B, 279, pp. 3401-3408
  • De Mársico, M.C., Gloag, R., Ursino, C.A., Reboreda, J.C., A novel method of rejection of brood parasitic eggs reduces parasitism intensity in a cowbird host (2013) Biol Lett, 9, p. 20130076. , PID: 23485877
  • De Mársico, M.C., Reboreda, J.C., Egg-laying behavior in screaming cowbirds: why does a specialist brood parasite waste so many eggs? (2008) Condor, 110, pp. 143-153
  • De Mársico, M.C., Reboreda, J.C., High frequency but low impact of brood parasitism by the specialist screaming cowbird on its primary host, the baywing (2014) Emu, 114, pp. 309-316
  • Doligez, B., Danchin, E., Clobert, J., Gustafsson, L., The use of conspecific reproductive success for breeding habitat selection in a non-colonial, hole-nesting species, the collared flycatcher (1999) J Anim Ecol, 68, pp. 1193-1206
  • Ellison, K., Sealy, S.G., Gibbs, H.L., Genetic elucidation of host use by individual sympatric bronzed cowbirds (Molothrus aeneus) and brown-headed cowbirds (M. ater) (2006) Can J Zool, 84, pp. 1269-1280
  • Fiorini, V.D., Gloag, R., Kacelnik, A., Reboreda, J.C., Strategic egg destruction by brood-parasitic cowbirds? (2014) Anim Behav, 93, pp. 229-235
  • Fiorini, V.D., Reboreda, J.C., Cues used by shiny cowbirds (Molothrus bonariensis) to locate and parasitise chalk-browed mockingbird (Mimus saturninus) nests (2006) Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 60, pp. 379-385
  • Fiorini, V.D., Tuero, D.T., Reboreda, J.C., Shiny cowbirds synchronize parasitism with host laying and puncture host eggs according to host characteristics (2009) Anim Behav, 77, pp. 561-568
  • Fraga, R.M., Interactions of the parasitic screaming and shiny cowbirds (Molothrus rufoaxillaris and M. bonariensis) with a shared host, the bay-winged cowbird (M. badius) (1998) Parasitic birds and their hosts, pp. 173-193. , Rothstein SI, Robinson SK, (eds), Studies in coevolution. Oxford University Press, New York, NY
  • Gloag, R., Fiorini, V.D., Reboreda, J.C., Kacelnik, A., The wages of violence: mobbing by mockingbirds as a frontline defence against brood-parasitic cowbirds (2013) Anim Behav, 86, pp. 1023-1029
  • Gloag, R., Fiorini, V.D., Reboreda, J.C., Kacelnik, A., Shiny cowbirds share foster mothers but not true mothers in multiply parasitized mockingbird nests (2014) Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 68, pp. 681-689
  • Guigueno, M.F., MacDougall-Shackleton, S.A., Sherry, D.F., Sex and seasonal differences in hippocampal volume and neurogenesis in brood-parasitic brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) (2016) Dev Neurobiol, , published online
  • Guigueno, M.F., Sealy, S.G., Aggression towards egg-removing cowbird elicits clutch abandonment in parasitized yellow warblers, Dendroica petechia (2011) Anim Behav, 81, pp. 211-218
  • Guigueno, M.F., Snow, D.A., MacDougall-Shackleton, S.A., Sherry, D.F., Female cowbirds have more accurate spatial memory than males (2014) Biol Lett, 10, p. 20140026. , PID: 24573155
  • Hahn, D.C., Sedgwick, J.A., Painter, I.S., Casna, N.J., A spatial and genetic analysis of cowbird host selection (1999) Stud Avian Biol-Ser, 18, pp. 204-217
  • Honza, M., Taborsky, B., Taborsky, M., Teuschl, Y., Vogl, W., Moksnes, A., Røskaft, E., Behaviour of female common cuckoos, Cuculus canorus, in the vicinity of host nests before and during egg laying: a radiotelemetry study (2002) Anim Behav, 64, pp. 861-868
  • Kattan, G.H., Shiny cowbirds follow the “shotgun” strategy of brood parasitism (1997) Anim Behav, 53, pp. 647-654
  • McLaren, C.M., Woolfenden, B.E., Gibbs, H.L., Sealy, S.G., Genetic and temporal patterns of multiple parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) on song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) (2003) Can J Zool, 81, pp. 281-286
  • Mennill, D.J., Doucet, S.M., Ward, K.-A.A., Maynard, D.F., Otis, B., Burt, J.M., A novel digital telemetry system for tracking wild animals: a field test for studying mate choice in a lekking tropical bird (2012) Methods Ecol Evol, 3, pp. 663-672
  • Mermoz, M.E., Reboreda, J.C., Egg-laying behaviour by shiny cowbirds parasitizing brown-and-yellow marshbirds (1999) Anim Behav, 58, pp. 873-882. , PID: 10512661
  • Moskát, C., Barta, Z., Hauber, M.E., Honza, M., High synchrony of egg laying in common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) and their great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) hosts (2006) Ethol Ecol Evol, 18, pp. 159-167
  • Peer, B.D., Egg destruction and egg removal by avian brood parasites: adaptiveness and consequences (2006) Auk, 123, pp. 16-22
  • Peer, B.D., Sealy, S.G., Laying time of the bronzed cowbird (1999) Wilson Bull, 111, pp. 137-139
  • Pöysä, H., Public information and conspecific nest parasitism in goldeneyes: targeting safe nests by parasites (2006) Behav Ecol, 17, pp. 459-465
  • Rappole, J.H., Tipton, A.R., New harness design for attachment of radio transmitters to small passerines (1991) J Field Ornithol, 62, pp. 335-337
  • Reboreda, J.C., Clayton, N.S., Kacelnik, A., Species and sex differences in hippocampus size in parasitic and non-parasitic cowbirds (1996) Neuroreport, 7, pp. 505-508. , COI: 1:STN:280:DyaK283ptVKmtw%3D%3D, PID: 8730816
  • Rivers, J.W., Peer, B.D., Relatedness constrains virulence in an obligate avian brood parasite (2016) Ornithol Sci, 15, pp. 191-201
  • Rivers, J.W., Young, S., Gonzalez, E.G., Horton, B., Lock, J., Fleischer, R.C., High levels of relatedness between brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) nestmates in a heavily parasitized host community (2012) Auk, 129, pp. 623-631
  • Robertson, R.J., Norman, R.F., Behavioral defenses to brood parasitism by potential hosts of the Brown-headed cowbird (1976) Condor, 78, pp. 166-173
  • Robertson, R.J., Norman, R.F., The function and evolution of aggressive host behavior towards the Brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) (1977) Can J Zool, 55, pp. 508-518
  • Robinson, S.K., Robinson, W.D., Avian nesting success in a selectively harvested north temperate deciduous forest (2001) Conserv Biol, 15, pp. 1763-1771
  • Rothstein, S.I., Robinson, S.K., (1998) Parasitic birds and their hosts: studies in coevolution, , Oxford University Press, New York
  • Rutz, C., Burns, Z.T., James, R., Ismar, S.M.H., Burt, J., Otis, B., Bowen, J., St Clair, J.J.H., Automated mapping of social networks in wild birds (2012) Curr Biol, 22, pp. R669-R671. , COI: 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC38XhtlCjtLrL, PID: 22974988
  • Scardamaglia, R.C., Reboreda, J.C., Ranging behavior of female and male shiny cowbirds and screaming cowbirds while searching for host nests (2014) Auk, 131, pp. 610-618
  • Scott, D.M., The time of day of egg laying by the brown-headed cowbird and other icterines (1991) Can J Zool, 69, pp. 2093-2099
  • Seeley, T.D., Buhrman, S.C., Nest-site selection in honey bees: how well do swarms implement the “best-of-N” decision rule? (2001) Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 49, pp. 416-427
  • Selonen, V., Hanski, I.K., Decision making in dispersing Siberian flying squirrels (2010) Behav Ecol, 21, pp. 219-225
  • Sherry, D.F., Forbes, M.R.L., Khurgel, M., Ivy, G.O., Females have a larger hippocampus than males in the brood-parasitic brown-headed cowbird (1993) P Natl Acad Sci USA, 90, pp. 7839-7843. , COI: 1:STN:280:DyaK3szmtFGnsA%3D%3D
  • Smith, J.N.M., Arcese, P., McLean, I.G., Age, experience, and enemy recognition by wild song sparrows (1984) Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 14, pp. 101-106
  • Soler, M., Pérez-Contreras, T., Location of suitable nests by great spotted cuckoos: an empirical and experimental study (2012) Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 66, pp. 1305-1310
  • Soler, M., Pérez-Contreras, T., Soler, J.J., Synchronization of laying by great spotted cuckoos and recognition ability of magpies (2015) J Avian Biol, 46, pp. 608-615
  • Spottiswoode, C.N., Kilner, R.M., Davies, N.B., Brood parasitism (2012) The evolution of parental care, pp. 226-243. , Royle NJ, Smiseth PT, Kölliker M, (eds), Oxford University Press, Oxford
  • Teuschl, Y., Taborsky, B., Taborsky, M., How do cuckoos find their hosts? The role of habitat imprinting (1998) Anim Behav, 56, pp. 1425-1433. , PID: 9933539
  • Ursino, C.A., De Mársico, M.C., Sued, M., Farall, A., Reboreda, J.C., Brood parasitism disproportionately increases nest provisioning and helper recruitment in a cooperatively breeding bird (2011) Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 65, pp. 2279-2286
  • Van Nouhuys, S., Ehrnsten, J., Wasp behavior leads to uniform parasitism of a host available only a few hours per year (2004) Behav Ecol, 15, pp. 661-665
  • Wiley, J.W., Host selection by the shiny cowbird (1988) Condor, 90, pp. 289-303
  • Wyllie, I., (1981) The cuckoo, , Batsford, London


---------- APA ----------
Scardamaglia, R.C., Fiorini, V.D., Kacelnik, A. & Reboreda, J.C. (2017) . Planning host exploitation through prospecting visits by parasitic cowbirds. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71(1).
---------- CHICAGO ----------
Scardamaglia, R.C., Fiorini, V.D., Kacelnik, A., Reboreda, J.C. "Planning host exploitation through prospecting visits by parasitic cowbirds" . Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 71, no. 1 (2017).
---------- MLA ----------
Scardamaglia, R.C., Fiorini, V.D., Kacelnik, A., Reboreda, J.C. "Planning host exploitation through prospecting visits by parasitic cowbirds" . Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, vol. 71, no. 1, 2017.
---------- VANCOUVER ----------
Scardamaglia, R.C., Fiorini, V.D., Kacelnik, A., Reboreda, J.C. Planning host exploitation through prospecting visits by parasitic cowbirds. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 2017;71(1).