The study of the habits of the Birds of New Zealand,at all times a fascinating one, is rendered more so, by the fact that two of our feathered inhabitants, the Cuckoos, in addition to the power of migrating annually from the Tropics, possess the extraordinary faculty,or instinct, of imposing their eggs upon other birds; and cooly, from malice aforethought, leaving them to the tender mercies of the strangers. Why this neglect of parental responsibilities, why this leaving to others of duties strictly belonging to themselves?
Further careful observation of the habits of the two New Zealand Cuckoos is necessary to clear up the question, but it seems to me undoubted that like Cuckoos elsewhere, they will be found to be polyandrous; there is no Pairing in the true sense of the word, though it is undoubted that the assistance of both male and fe- male is necessary in the construction of a nest. Wallace tells us that the male bird of a pair, often a young one, may learn from his mate, who has had previous experience of nest- building, and, vice versa, a young female is often helped by an old male bird and a very neat nest constructed. On the other hand, a pair of young birds new to the business often construct a very poor habitation indeed. The female Cuckoo or Cowbird, whose companions roam about the bush, has no mate to help her, her feet and bill are ill -adapted for nest -construction, so she is either content with a few poor sticks on which she lays her eggs or she drops them one by one into the nests of other birds. It will be seen that we have got one step further into the heart of the mystery. We have found that all parasitic birds are polyandrous, that there is no pairing - but we must go a great deal further yet,and find if possible what is due whole thing -BO- what has led to this lack of pairing - to what is due this preponderance of males, and whether the whole thing is not really after all an indirect result of the migrating habit.