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Brood division in robins
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 05:39 authored by D G C Harper
Broods of fledgling robins Erithacus rubecula are sometimes divided between their parents so that each parent feeds only some of the chicks. These associations between a parent and certain of its young ('family units') are shown to be stable over periods of days. Brood division is most frequent in broods that are not followed by another nesting attempt. Experimental manipulation of the food supply suggests that brood division is relaxed when food is readily available. An analysis of the interactions between parents and chicks demonstrates that both adults and fledglings play a role in brood division. The possible functions of brood division are discussed with reference to 'other types of care', 'parental efficiency', 'cheat countermeasure' and 'two types of chick' hypotheses. Male parents feed chicks with shorter winglengths than do females: since females tend to have shorter winglengths than males, this suggests that chicks are cared for by parents of the opposite sex. Possible causes and consequences of this observation are discussed.
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- Evolution, Behaviour and Environment Publications
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