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Russian cuckoos are taking over Alaska

The common cuckoo birds which are in eastern Russia are now expanding their breeding range and are spreading into western Alaska. This area is well-known for the native songbirds. These North American birds may suffer a huge loss as the birds migrate from Russia to Alaska. It will be a big problem for the future if the birds establish in Alaska. The resident songbirds will be in a lot of trouble.

Earlier when the Cuckoos came to Alaska, the native songbirds were smart enough to cope with them by hiding their nests or smashing and tossing out the cuckoo egg before hatching. Now that both the common and the oriental cuckoos are moving into Alaska, it is a grim situation for the natives, says research.

The resident songbirds in trouble

According to the research of Mark Hauber who is an ornithologist at the University of Illinois,

“It looks like cuckoos are ready to invade North America,” according to Hauber, the last decade has seen more Cuckoos than ever before. The increase in the sighting of these birds is in Alaska and Siberia. It is because of the climate changes over the past decade. If the climate keeps changing, and the birds keep migrating, it will be a big problem for the native birds in Alaska, says Hauber. These birds will be defenseless against the new cuckoos. Their defenses will be zero as compared to the Cuckoos’ strategies.

The Cuckoos are “brood parasites.”

These are the types of birds which lay eggs in other birds’ nests and rely on them to care for their young ones. The best part is that the Cuckoo birds hatch first and they murder the other half-hatched eggs. They also toss them out of their nests. It is a grave situation for the native birds. If the number of Cuckoos increases, the number of native songbirds will decrease. It can affect the survival of the species of those songbirds.

The situation is very tense. Hauber and his colleagues conducted their study by putting 3-D printed cuckoo eggs in the nests of birds in Alaska and Siberia. The result was astonishing. In Siberia, the native birds rejected almost 14 of every 22 eggs. It suggests that the Siberian birds have a strong sense of their eggs. However, in Alaska, the birds rejected only 4 out of 100 eggs. All other 96 thought that these were their eggs. These birds did not differentiate their eggs from the Cuckoos.

It was a surprise that the Alaskan birds had no rejection, says Hauber. Hauber says that there is more study to be done on Cuckoos as they pose a threat to the native birds more than any other species. He says that they need to know how these birds move during their breeding season. He also said that it is important to know which bird species they target the most. It will be very handy and will help them solve the issue. He said that if there is a Cuckoo invasion in Alaska, it will open a lot of research possibilities.