Proverbs 20:17
“Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.”

You may be aware that the common cuckoo does not feed or raise its own young. Instead, it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. The adoptive parents feed and raise the young cuckoo as their own until the cuckoo gets larger than the foster parents and flies away without so much as a “thank you.”

Guira cuckooOne common adoptive parent for the young cuckoos is the reed warbler, whose behavior pattern is quite different from the cuckoos. For example, reed warbler parents recognize hungry baby birds by their persistent calling. Cuckoos typically lay but one egg in an adoptive nest. Once this egg hatches, the young cuckoo throws the reed warbler eggs out of the nest. So how does one little baby cuckoo manage to convince the parent reed warbler that it is half a dozen reed warbler babies to be fed? Researchers have finally learned the amazing answer to that question. They say that the baby cuckoo fools its adoptive parents by sounding like as many as eight baby reed warblers. The act is so convincing that it gets all the food it wants.

Who teaches the baby cuckoos this trick? Certainly not the mother cuckoo who, incidentally, misses out on all the fulfillment of family life. The cuckoo reminds us that deceit robs us of good experiences in our lives. That’s why it is comforting when our perfect God of truth tells us that He never changes.

Forgive me, dear Father, for any deceit in my life, and help me to live a life of truth and honesty. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

L.H., “Cuckoos beg doggedly to trick hosts”, Science News, 3/6/99, v. 155, p. 158. Photo: Guira cuckoo. Courtesy of Aaron Siirila. (CC-BY-SA 2.5)