Presenting... Obligate Brood Parasites

Four taxidermy cuckoos, a common cuckoo, meadow pipit, willow warbler, and redstart

Presenting... Obligate Brood Parasites

25 MAY – 27 JULY 2023


Discover a new temporary exhibit at Oxford University Museum of Natural History about birds that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds.

Several groups of birds around the world are obligate brood parasites, but the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is the only one that lives in the UK. Obligate brood parasites have lost the ability to build nests and incubate eggs themselves, so rely on the host bird to raise their chicks. But how do they get away with this?

Visit our new temporary display to discover how obligate brood parasites use mimicry to fool host birds into accepting their eggs.


An external view of the presenting case about obligate brood parasites showing some interpretation labels and a drawer of different coloured eggs


Egg clutches from a variety of species, each containing a cuckoo egg. The egg clutches are diverse in colour -- sometimes the cuckoo egg is well camouflaged, other times not

Egg clutches from a variety of species, each containing a cuckoo egg

A taxidermy restart

Redstart, Phoenicurus phoenicurus




Map showing that the presenting case is just to the left, next to the help desk, as you enter the Oxford Natural History Museum through the main door.

You can find the Presenting Case next to the Welcome Desk; just to the left as you enter the Museum through the main entrance.