Manx shearwaters marry for life and share the incubation and feeding of their single chick. Dr Keith Hamer of Leeds University’s School of Biology has discovered that males consistently provide more food than their wives, but it’s not because they’re better parents – they just don’t listen.
By dangling microphones into burrows of nesting shearwaters, Dr Hamer and Cardiff University colleagues Petra Quillfeldt and Juan Masselo found differences in the way shearwaters respond to the begging calls of their chick.
Dr Hamer said: “We found female behaviour depends on the intensity of the chick’s begging, with mothers of hungry chicks returning very frequently, while those of well-fed chicks stay away for up to eight days. Males return to the nest at least once every four days, bringing back food with predictable regularity, regardless of the chick’s cries.”
Vanessa Bridge | University of Leeds
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