Thursday, 21 May 2015

Cuckoo and dunnock project at Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey is playing its part in a research project to find out whether birds discourage cuckoos from laying eggs in their nests.

Cuckoos are known as ‘brood parasites’. They lay a single egg in other birds’ nests, then leave the host birds to rear the cuckoo chicks. The host birds’ eggs or chicks don’t survive. Dunnocks are a favourite host bird and we have several dunnocks nesting here in the grounds at Anglesey Abbey.

Jenny York from Cambridge University’s Dept of Zoology is looking for the answers to 2 questions about dunnock behaviour:

1. Do dunnocks respond differently to cuckoos than to other nest predators like magpies?
2. Do dunnocks’ alarm calls affect how other dunnocks nearby respond to cuckoos?

Jenny will be using model cuckoos and magpies and recordings of dunnock alarm calls to answer these questions.

Photos copyright North East Wildlife.

Kate Boursnell

Volunteer Community Reporter

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