Search This Blog

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Parental models in birds

It’s very usual to hear the term school for parents, under the idea that humans require a specific training, determined to carry out actions on the environment.

Also said that no one is born knowing how to be a father and it is important to recognize behavior patterns key to regulate the children behavior. However, when other species are analyzed  it’s hard to find truly patterns of behavior that are not evolutionarily designed in order to take a good course to the species.

This time I present two completely different parental models, both from birds in natural environment, without domestication and therefore without cultural ballasts in a semi natural environment, since they live among people who don't annoy them, but they must deal with their natural predators like foxes, coyotes, owls, herons and hawks.

On this occasion, I present a behavior model focused on the Canada Goose (Branta Canadensis) which is of the Anatidae family, of the order of the Anseriformes and the super order of the Galloanserae. 

There are documents that show that these birds have inhabited this planet  since at least 10 million years.

The other observed specie is the Mallard Duck or wild duck (Anas Superciliosa) of the order of the Anseriformes, family Anatidae, of the species A. Platyrhynchos. It is believed that they lived at least since the Pleistocene so tha menas they have been at least been on the face of the Earth since 11 700 years ago.

While both species inhabit the same space, they show different parental behaviors.

In the case of the Canada goose, both parents are responsible for taking care of the chicks, so it is common to see both parents watching and directing their babies. In case of detecting any type of danger, they tend to show behaviour of attack orif it’s necessary they attack. 

From a very young babies them goose begins to modulate behavioral responses by imitating their parents, when very small they tend to stay in places where there is water, but as the chicks grow, they begin to explore territory. Geese fly, walk, run, and prepare to emigrate during the winter.

Babies are born in early spring and its territory is confined to the space where they nest, however these places are not always the same, these can vary year to year, this is the reason it was not possible to follow more families.

Families do not have too much intreraction with other gesse, until the hatchlings begin to move into the environment, however, parents are always caring for their own children, that must learn to fly, fishing, and attack. 

They show intense attack behaviors when the chicks are more vulnerable, especially because couples usually have between 4 to 7 chicks.

Swim classes are always led by mother and closely observed by the father. My impression is that the father is at the point where the family is more vulnerable. Usually if you see a wounded member, it is the father.

Chicks change plumage after few weeks and leave her yellow pajamas for a grey plumage which is replaced by the natural color of adults.

On the other hand, the wild duck, shows much less rigidity on behaviors of care. First, males and females coexist in the same space,  usually in  groups, until the time of mating. It is common to see the ducks resting while mothers care for, protect and teach fledglings how to survive.

The offspring per litter can be 2 to 6, no more than this, in part since the mother can not probably care one more baby.

These birds live in group, but every mother observe their children. The chicks, begin to swim near the mother and mimic their behavior. In case of danger come to her to seek shelter.

Once the baby duckscan care themselves they join the group, and then be ready to wait for winter, survive, with the promise of spring.

It is so the rest of the species search mechanisms of child care, serving the same natural pattern that keeps everyone on the face of the Earth.


Buntin, JD. (1996) Neural and Hormonal Control of parental behavior in birds. Advances in the Study of Behavior. 25. 161-213.

Ghalambor, CK., Peluz, SI., and Martín, TE. (2013) Plasticity of parental care under the risk of predation: how much should parents reduce care?. Biology Letters. 9 (4) doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0154

Martin, TE., Martin, PR., Olson, CR., Heidinger, BJ., & Fountaine, JJ. (2000) Parental care and clutch size in North and South American birds. Science. 287 (5457) 1482-1485.

No comments:

Post a Comment