Hatching order influences birds' behaviour

Dec 07, 2012
Hatching order influences birds’ behaviour
A zebra finch.

The hatching order of birds influences how they behave in adult life according to research from the Lancaster Environment Centre.

Dr Ian Hartley and Dr Mark Mainwaring (LEC) are the authors of the study in , which looked at how the birds' behaviour was affected by the way their parents cared for them as hatchlings.

They found that the youngest members of broods are more adventurous than their older siblings in adult life.

Dr Hartley said that the study showed for the first time that hatching order influences birds' "behavioural repertoires" in adulthood.

Hatching eggs over a period of time, rather than all at once, is known as "hatching asynchrony" and occurs when eggs are incubated as soon as they are laid. For a zebra finch, this means that birds born up to four days apart can share the same nest and must compete for food.

The researchers experimentally controlled hatching within , so that some clutches hatched simultaneously, while others hatched over a period of days. They then tested the behaviour of over one hundred offspring as adults. They found the youngest birds from asynchronously hatched clutches explored their environment more widely.

They measured how explorative the zebra were by recording how many times they visited bird feeders within an unfamiliar test aviary. They found that the youngest offspring in a brood approached the feeders significantly more often than their peers within a 30 minute period.

Researchers wanted to know how the method of rearing affected the behaviour of offspring beyond the nest, once they were living as independent adult birds. The results have implications for understanding how environmental stability might influence behaviours, and how flexible animals might be at coping with .

Explore further: Science casts light on sex in the orchard

More information: www.sciencedirect.com/science/… i/S0003347212004678#

Related Stories

'Nervous' birds take more risks

Oct 26, 2007

Scientists have shown that birds with higher stress levels adopt bolder behaviour than their normally more relaxed peers in stressful situations. A University of Exeter research team studied zebra finches, which had been ...

Early bird doesn't always get worm, researcher finds

Mar 12, 2008

Competing against older brothers and sisters can be tough work, as any youngest child will tell you. But new research from a biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that when it comes to some birds, ...

Seagulls: Are males the weaker sex?

May 07, 2008

Male seagulls may be more vulnerable to their environment during embryonic development than females, according to Maria Bogdanova and Ruedi Nager from the University of Glasgow in the UK. Until now, the sex differences in ...

Cuckoo chicks in Zebra finches

Apr 22, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Some female zebra finches foist a part of their eggs on their neighbours. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen discovered that in every fifth nest there is one ...

Recommended for you

'Divide and rule'—raven politics

4 hours ago

Mythology has attributed many supernatural features to ravens. Studies on the cognitive abilities of ravens have indeed revealed that they are exceptionally intelligent. Ravens live in complex social groups ...

Science casts light on sex in the orchard

Oct 30, 2014

Persimmons are among the small club of plants with separate sexes—individual trees are either male or female. Now scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Kyoto University in Japan have discovered ...

Four new dragon millipedes found in China

Oct 30, 2014

A team of speleobiologists from the South China Agriculture University and the Russian Academy of Sciences have described four new species of the dragon millipedes from southern China, two of which seem to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.