Post-fledging brood and care division in the roseate tern (Sterna dougallii)

Maggie J Watson, Jeffrey A. Spendelow, Jeremy J. Hatch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Extended post-fledging parental care is an important aspect of parental care in birds, although little studied due to logistic difficulties. Commonly, the brood issplit physically (brood division) and/or preferential care isgiven to a subset of the brood by one parent or the other(care division). Among gulls and tern (Laridae), males and females generally share parental activities during the prefledging period, but the allocation of parental care afterfledging is little documented. This study examined the behaviour of male and female roseate terns (Sterna dougallii) during the late chick-rearing and early post-fledging periods, and in particular the amount of feeds and the timespent in attendance given to individual chicks/fledglings. Pre-fledging parental care was biparental in all cases. Postfledging parental care was dependent on the number of fledglings in the brood. Males and females continued biparental care in clutches with one surviving fledgling,while in two-fledgling clutches, males fed the A-fledgling while females fed the B-fledgling. Overall, there was no difference in attendance, only in feeds. This division ofcare may be influenced by the male only being certain of the paternity of the A-chick but not by chick sex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-34
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Ethology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

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