New study into shared parental workload shows cooperation makes a huge difference to nestling survival

Parent birds timed their arrival and departure at the nest over 67% of the time

This produced a reduction in nest disturbance by 36%

This is the first time a study into parental behaviour during nesting has been carried out and tested the hypothesis that mates synchronize their behaviours to decrease total activity at the nest, which is known to affect predation rate in birds.

It examined if parents synchronise their feeding trips more when nestlings are at the poikilothermic (http://bit.ly/2J2IXMx) stage, and they may be more vulnerable to nest predation due to their inability to escape and survive outside the nest without parental brooding.

Blackcap

The subject of this study was the blackcap Sylvia atricapilla, a species characterized by bi-parental care

It also investigated the alternation of feeding trips by parents and showed that parents synchronise the majority of their feeding trips during the whole nestling period, and the level of parental synchrony is higher before nestlings develop endothermy (http://bit.ly/2x26bNF).

The study showed the alternation of male and female feeding trips was much higher than would be expected by chance and was positively related to parental synchrony.

It demonstrated that synchronisation of parental feeding trips significantly decreased parental activity at the nest, and nest survival time increased with the synchrony of parental feeding trips.

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