Diversity of parasitic cuckoos and their hosts in China
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Original versionChinese Birds. 2012, 3 9-32.
In this exposé we provide the first review of host use by brood parasitic cuckoos in a multiple-cuckoo system in China, based on our own long-term field data and a compilation of observations obtained from the literature. In total, we found that 11 species of cuckoos utilized altogether 55 host species. These hosts belong to 15 families, in which Sylviidae, Turdidae and Timaliidae account for 22.6%, 20.8% and 17.0% of parasitism records, respectively. The Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) had the widest range of host species, accounting for 45.5% of the total number of parasitized species (25 in 10 families) of all parasitism records and is the most frequent brood parasite in the country. Cuckoo species differed in their egg coloration and the extent of egg polymorphism with most of them, e.g. the Common Cuckoo, the Lesser Cuckoo (C. poliocephalus) and the Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus) laying well mimetic eggs with respect to their hosts based on human being’s visual observations, while others such as the Large Hawk-cuckoo (C. sparverioides), the Himalayan Cuckoo (C. saturatus) and the Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus) usually laid non-mimetic eggs. The use of cuckoo hosts and egg color variation in China are compared with those in other parts of their ranges in Asia.