We studied the context of brood reduction through infanticide by communally breeding Guira Cuckoos (Guira guira) in central Brazil. During seven reproductive seasons, we monitored 142 nests from egg laying until fledging. Almost all nests (97%) lost eggs through ejection, and chick deaths occurred in 72% of all nests with hatchlings. There was evidence for infanticide in 38% of the nests that exhibited some mortality. We compared egg and chick mortality in the early part of the season with the later part, when insect abundance declines, but found no significant differences. Less than one-third of all nests monitored showed asynchronous hatching of eggs, and in those that did, chick death was not in reverse hatch order. Although there are several plausible explanations for infanticide, we highlight one likely candidate, which is its interpretation as a sexually selected trait where individuals gain reproductive benefits by provoking the group's nesting failure.
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Vol. 103 • No. 1