Baby Birds Blackmail Mom for More Noms

Photo: Vishnevskiy Vasily/Shutterstock

Gimme more noms or else! New research shows that young pied babbler birds blackmail their parents to get more food by behaving dangerously:

Once the baby birds reach their fledgling stage, kind of like our awkward teenage years, the birds have a little more control over their bodies, but still not enough to fly or feed themselves. And like teens, when the young birds disagree with their parents, they start taking risks. When they want more food, for example, researchers found that the young birds leave the nest early. [...]

The study found that parents that heard recorded alarm calls of other species (signalling a possible predator in the area) nearly doubled how much they fed to ground-based babies, while feeding nest babies no differently. The authors speculate this is in part an attempt to get at-risk babies to move back to the safety of nearby bushes since the young birds don’t take as many risks or behave as dangerously when they are full.

From the youngster’s perspective, though, they might be paradoxically more inclined to leave the nest when the danger to them is the highest, since their manipulative powers to get more food are also strongest at that point.

Breanna Draxler has more at Discover's D-brief blog: Link

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