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Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing, London

Publication Year: 2015

Binding: Hardback

Page Count: 320

ISBN Number: 978-1-40885-656-7

Price: £ 16.99

Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature

Nick Davies has had a fantastic career producing outstanding papers on the behavioural ecology of Dunnocks, Cuckoos and other species. But what sets him apart from many of his peers is the sheer enjoyment he takes from doing his work – simple pleasure in watching birds, being out in the countryside and, as he outlines here, in sharing this with colleagues.

All of this is reflected in this book. “I put my heart into that book as well as my head – something you can’t do in scientific papers,” he has said of this latest book. As most of his potential readers love birds and the countryside too, the book is immeasurably the better for it. Its wonderfully lucid prose not only recounts recent research into the evolutionary ecology of the Cuckoo’s extraordinary breeding behaviour (and that of other brood parasites) but also puts this into fascinating historical context and includes many references to literary mentions of the Cuckoo and its role in our culture.

The result is a rich, enjoyable and enlightening read that is never heavy but is definitely one of the most rewarding bird books I have read.

Book reviewed by Chris Hewson

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