It is well known that avian brood parasites lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species, called hosts. It remains less clear, however, just how parasites are able to recognize their hosts and identify the exact location of the appropriate nests to lay their eggs in. While previous studies attributed high importance to visual signals in finding the hosts' nests (e.g. nest building activity or the distance and direct sight of the nest from vantage points used by the brood parasites), the role of host acoustic signals during the nest searching stage has been largely neglected. We present experimental evidence that both female and male common cuckoos Cuculus canorus pay attention to their host's, the great reed warbler's Acrocephalus arundinaceus alarm calls, relative to the calls of an unparasitized species used as controls. Parallel to this, we found no difference between the visibility of parasitized and unparasitized nests during drone flights, but great reed warblers that alarmed more frequently experienced higher rates of parasitism. We conclude that alarm calls might be advantageous for the hosts when used against enemies or for alerting conspecifics, but can act in a detrimental manner by providing important nest location cues for eavesdropping brood parasites. Our results suggest that host alarm calls may constitute a suitable trait on which cuckoo nestlings can imprint on to recognize their primary host species later in life. Our study contributes to the growing body of knowledge regarding the context-dependency of animal signals, by providing a novel example of a beneficial acoustic trait intercepted by a heterospecific and used against the emitter.