• by Nick Davies
  • Narrated by David Thorpe
  • 8 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A gifted biologist's careful and beguiling study of why cuckoos have gotten away with tricking other birds into hatching and raising their young for thousands of years.
The familiar call of the common cuckoo, "cuck-oo", has been a harbinger of spring ever since our ancestors walked out of Africa many thousands of years ago. However, for naturalist and scientist Nick Davies, the call is an invitation to solve an enduring puzzle: How does the cuckoo get away with laying its eggs in the nests of other birds and tricking them into raising young cuckoos rather than their own offspring?
Early observers who noticed a little warbler feeding a monstrously large cuckoo chick concluded the cuckoo's lack of parental care was the result of faulty design by the Creator and that the hosts chose to help the poor cuckoo. These quaint views of bad design and benevolence were banished after Charles Darwin proposed that the cuckoo tricks the hosts in an evolutionary battle where hosts evolve better defenses against cuckoos and cuckoos, in turn, evolve better trickery to outwit the hosts.
For the last three decades, Davies has employed observation and field experiments to unravel the details of this evolutionary arms race between cuckoos and their hosts. Like detectives, Davies and his colleagues studied adult cuckoo behavior, cuckoo egg markings, and cuckoo-chick begging calls to discover exactly how cuckoos trick their hosts.
For birding and evolution aficionados, The Cuckoo is a lyrical and scientifically satisfying exploration of one of nature's most astonishing and beautiful adaptations.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.


What the Critics Say

"Narrator David Thorpe delivers this nature detective story with an appropriate sense of wonder, amusement, and approachable professorial authority.... Thorpe channels Davies's obvious enjoyment in his chosen profession and in the Wicken Fen, where he explores. Both appear to be having a whale of a time, and the enthusiasm is infectious--science this accessible is a pleasure." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Thoroughly enjoyable.

This book lovingly explains the cuckoo's strange lifestyle. It is a fascinating story and it turns out not to be counter-intuitive at all, which to me is profound and amazing. Nick Davies gives detail of the methods, historical and contemporary, by which many of the puzzles presented by this remarkable bird have been solved and I now feel like I know everything about Cuckoos there is to know. As he always does, David Thorpe reads brilliantly.
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- John

Absolutely fascinating

A great book, which outlines the fascinating "arms race" between cuckoo species and their host's.
It is also a poignant reminder of what we have lost, over a very short space of time!

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- David

Book Details

  • Release Date: 17-03-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios for Bloomsbury