Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mother birds know best -- even before birth

Date:
March 27, 2010
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
Mother birds communicate with their developing chicks before they even hatch by leaving them messages in the egg, new research has found.

New research reveals that mother birds communicate with their developing chicks before they even hatch by leaving them messages in the egg.
Credit: Fernando Trabanco

Mother birds communicate with their developing chicks before they even hatch by leaving them messages in the egg, new research by a team from the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, has found.

Related Articles


By changing conditions within the egg, canary mothers leave a message for their developing chicks about the life they will face after birth. In response, nestlings adjust the development of their begging behaviour.

If chicks get a message that they will be reared by generous parents then they beg more vigorously for food after hatching. But chicks that are destined to be raised by meaner parents end up being much less demanding.

By attending to messages in the egg, nestlings gain weight more rapidly because they match their demands to the parents' supply of food, and can avoid either begging too little or wasting effort on unrewarded begging.

The Cambridge team made the discovery using fostering experiments, exchanging eggs between canaries' nests so that the chicks grew up in an environment that they were not expecting.

"This work changes our understanding of the pre-natal environment in birds," says Dr Rebecca Kilner of the University of Cambridge, who led the research.

"We've known for about twenty years that maternal substances in the egg can influence how chicks develop, but the common assumption is that they are a means by which mothers manipulate their offspring in a way that suits the mother more than the chick.

"What we've shown is the reverse: these substances are actually there to suit the chick. If we muck up the message in the egg experimentally, it is the chick that is penalised directly rather than the mother."

The work was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, and is published in Science on March 12, 2010.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Camilla A. Hinde, Rufus A. Johnstone, and Rebecca M. Kilner. Parent-Offspring Conflict and Coadaptation. Science, 2010: 327 (5971): 1373-1376 DOI: 10.1126/science.1186056

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Mother birds know best -- even before birth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311141209.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2010, March 27). Mother birds know best -- even before birth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311141209.htm
University of Cambridge. "Mother birds know best -- even before birth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311141209.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins