Faculté des sciences

Nestling barn owls beg more intensely in the presence of their mother than in the presence of their father

Roulin, Alexandre ; Bersier, Louis-Félix

In: Animal Behaviour, 2007, vol. 74, no. 4, p. 1099-1106

Nestling begging behaviour may be an honest signal of need used by parents to adjust optimally both feeding rate and within-brood food allocation. Although several studies showed that mothers and fathers can be differentially responsive to nestling begging behaviour with one parent showing a stronger tendency to feed the offspring that beg the most, little information is yet available on whether... Plus

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    Summary
    Nestling begging behaviour may be an honest signal of need used by parents to adjust optimally both feeding rate and within-brood food allocation. Although several studies showed that mothers and fathers can be differentially responsive to nestling begging behaviour with one parent showing a stronger tendency to feed the offspring that beg the most, little information is yet available on whether offspring beg for food at different intensities from the mother than father. In the present study, we investigated in nestling barn owls whether the intensity of vocal begging behaviour in the presence of the mother and in the presence of the father is different. A difference is expected because reproductive tasks are divided between the sexes with fathers bringing more food items to the nest than mothers. The results show that although mothers transfer their prey item to one of the offspring more rapidly than fathers once in their nestbox, nestlings begged more intensely in the presence of their mother than in the presence of their father. To our knowledge, this is the first empirical evidence that offspring vocalize to different levels in the presence of their mother than in the presence of their father.