There Is No
Night-Feeding Bird To Feed The Fern Owl's Young.
Does any one think the
cuckoo could herself feed two young cuckoos?
How many birds would it take
to feed three young cuckoos? Supposing there were - five - young cuckoos in
the nest, would it not take almost all the birds in a hedge to feed them?
For the incredible voracity of the young cuckoo - swallow, swallow,
swallow, and gape, gape, gape - cannot be computed. The two robins or the
pair of hedge-sparrows in whose nest the young cuckoo is bred, work the
day through, and cannot satisfy him; and the mother cuckoo is said to
come and assist in feeding him at times. How, then, could the cuckoo feed
two or three of its offspring and itself at the same time? Several other
birds do not build nests - the plover, the fern owl. That is no evidence
of lack of intelligence. The cuckoo's difficulty, or one of its
difficulties, seems to be in the providing sufficient food for its
ravenous young. A half-fledged cuckoo is already a large bird, and needs
a bulk of soft food for its support. Three of them would wear out their
mother completely, especially if - as may possibly be the case - the male
cuckoo will not help in feeding. This is the simplest explanation, I
think; yet, as I have often said before, we must not always judge the
ways of birds or animals or insects either by strict utility, or by
crediting them with semi-supernatural intelligence.
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