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Brood Parasite
📸 by #clairespottiswoode

The African Greater Honeyguide uses other birds to raise their young.

They intentionally lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, sabotaging any other eggs by breaking them open with her beak in an attempt to ensure that her chick is the only recipient of the foster mother’s care.

Sometimes the other eggs survive, or the other bird will lay more – no problem. The honeyguide mother has another trick up her sleeve.

She will incubate her egg inside herself, allowing it to hatch 2 to 4 days before the others, so when the rightful chicks hatch at 1.8 grams, the honeyguide chick has already bulked up to 9 grams.

It attacks the other chicks within an hour of hatching.

Honeyguide chicks are equipped with sharp hooks on the end of their beak, with which they inflict plenty of damage.

They chew and gnaw on the newborns, even shaking them like a dog would shake a rabbit.

Once the chick stops moving, the honeyguide stops attacking, although it might take several hours for the chicks to finally die.

With no other competition, the honeyguide begs for food like any other hungry chick, and the parents oblige, all the while unaware that they are feeding and caring for a murderous parasite that killed their entire family.



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