As avian brood parasitism usually reduces hosts' reproductive success, hosts often exhibit strong defence mechanisms. While such host defences at the egg stage (especially egg rejection) have been extensively studied, defence mechanisms at the nestling stage have been reported only recently. We found a previously unknown anti-parasitism behaviour in the large-billed Gerygone, which is a host species of the little bronze-cuckoo, a host-evicting brood parasite. The hosts forcibly pulled resisting nestlings out of their nests and dumped them. Although it has been suggested that defence mechanisms at the nestling stage may evolve when host defence at the egg stage is evaded by the parasite, the studied host seems to lack an anti-parasitism strategy at the egg stage. This suggests that the evolutionary pathway may be quite different from those of previously studied cuckoo-host systems. Future research on this unique system may give us new insights into the evolution of avian brood parasitism.
Sato, N., Tokue, K., Noske, R., Mikami, O. K., & Ueda, K. (2010). Evicting cuckoo nestlings from the nest: a new anti-parasitism behaviour. Biology Letters, 6(1), 67-69. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2009.0540