Monday, May 16, 2011

Guira Cuckoo

Guira Cuckoos at
Busch Gardens
Well I just made it back from vacation, and now that Marsupial Week is all wrapped up I'd like to share with you some of the animals that I met while out of town.

The first of these is the Guira Cuckoo, a scruffy looking bird that natively inhabits open areas of southern South America. I encountered two of these birds at the Lorikeet Glen in Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Guira Cuckoos are very social; they sleep, feed, and nest in groups. They forage on the ground with each other, feeding on small vertebrates and insects.

Guira Cuckoos are quite interesting because they are non-parasitic. No, this doesn't mean they are bug free, this means that they don't practice brood parasitism. Many Cuckoos will deposit their eggs in the nests of other bird species. Because the Cuckoos are typically larger than their hosts, the Cuckoo chicks will get rid of the host's eggs or hatchlings in order to receive more attention.

Rather than take part in brood parasitism, Guira Cuckoos take part in communal nesting. Several females will lay their eggs in a single nest, and they will all care for the eggs (though competition usually means some of the young will die).

Guira Cuckoos are also very vocal birds, creating a wide variety of chirps, whistles and trills. They can even imitate the calls of other birds!

IUCN Status :  Least Concern
Location : Southern South America
Size : Total Length up to 13in (34cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae -- Genus : Guira -- Species : G. guira

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