It would be easy to show that several distinct mental actions are commonly embraced by this term; but every one understands what is meant, when it is said that instinct impels the cuckoo to migrate and to lay her eggs in other birds' nests.
I will select only three, out of the several which I shall have to discuss in my future work,--namely, the instinct which leads the cuckoo to lay her eggs in other birds' nests; the slave-making instinct of certain ants; and the comb-making power of the hive-bee: these two latter instincts have generally, and most justly, been ranked by naturalists as the most wonderful of all known instincts.
But the American cuckoo is in this predicament; for she makes her own nest and has eggs and young successively hatched, all at the same time.
This instinct may probably be accounted for by the fact of the hens laying a large number of eggs; but, as in the case of the cuckoo, at intervals of two or three days.
In this case, as with the supposed case of the cuckoo, I can see no difficulty in natural selection making an occasional habit permanent, if of advantage to the species, and if the insect whose nest and stored food are thus feloniously appropriated, be not thus exterminated.
Sexual imprinting and song development may be of particular importance to the New World Striped Cuckoo
(Tapera naevia), as this species engages in duets, a complex vocal behavior that is used to defend territory and coordinate breeding activity in Neotropical birds (Smith and Smith 2000, Topp and Mennill 2008, Koloff and Mennill 2011).
The western yellow-billed cuckoo
, a bird subspecies whose populations have verged on extinction in the western United States, is again up for consideration for special protections under the Endangered Species Act - and the proposal has some farmers and ranchers worried for their livelihoods.