Riffing on cuckoos …
Like the common cuckoo and brown-headed cowbird, the striped cuckoo (Tapera naevia) of Central and South America is an obligate brood parasite. Called “saci” in Brazil or “sinfín” for its voice, this bird is more often heard than seen and that’s a shame because his behavior is so fascinating. When approaching an unknown saci, here’s what he does:
The curious dance of the saci, also known as the striped cuckoo.— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) August 9, 2020
? Ednilson Pereira. pic.twitter.com/2eQLkaGEA4
Whoa! Where did he get those hands?
All birds have them. They’re actually the bird’s thumbs. The complete structure with three to five short feathers is called the alula and is used to prevent a stall during slow flight. Pitt peregrine Dorothy demonstrates them while soaring in this 2008 photo.
The saci has black alulas that contrast with his white breast feathers so they stand out when he dances.
Mighty impressive. Show me your hands!
p.s. The striped cuckoo is called the saci in Brazil because it is related the saci of Brazilian folklore. Read more here.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons and by Jack Rowley)