I have just finished reading The minds of Birds, by Alexander F.
Skutch, which makes some interesting points about the behaviour of parasatic
birds – most of which is not beyond leaving fossil evidence behind if this is
what occurred with the Velociraptors in Mongolia. I made five bullet point notes
as I reread that chapter:
- Parasites have thicker eggshells than their hosts regardless
of relative egg size.
- The yellow warbler builds a new nest on top of it’s old one
if it knows there is a parasite egg in it (this can sometimes culminate in a
nest four or five stories high with a very stressed mother bird perched atop
- Stressed birds lay thinner eggshells, so a stacked multi
story nest with increasingly thinning host eggs would be pretty solid evidence
for increased stress levels on a s/t basis caused by parasitism.
- Parasites choose yearling and juvenile nest builders who
perhaps aren’t as good at spotting a faker in their brood.
- Just a little thought that occurred to me as I read through
no fault of Mr Skutch – Couldn’t O philoceratops’ highly derived beak show
adaptations for smashing the hardened eggs of parasite
The Minds of Birds by A. Skutch, Texas A&M University press
Balda and Wiltschko 1991; Coulson 1972; Dowsett-Lemaire 1979;
Howard 1952; Nice 1943; Nolan 1958, 1978, Rappole and Warner 1980; Shwartz 1963,
1964; Sherman 1952; Skutch 1953, 1954, 1976; Wall 1990; Welty 1975
Actual headline of Saturday’s Guardian: "They were vicious,
stupid and doomed, So why can’t we resist a dinosaur?"