Some male hawks and owls have trouble adapting their behaviour in order to raise chicks on their own, a new study finds.
In breeding pairs, the male is the primary provider of prey for their young while females tear the prey into right-sized chunks and also brood the chicks. (i.e. use their bodies to shield them from the elements.) If the female is killed, the male continues to bring food, but his inability to feed or brood the chicks often means they become weak and/or die, despite being surrounded by food so abundant that it decays in the next.
The researchers document nearly a dozen such cases going back several decades and suggest factors that would influence the nestlings’ chances of survival.
Original research paper published in the journal Canadian Field-Naturalist on July 7, 2014.
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