Do fledglings choose wisely? An experimental investigation into social foraging behaviour

A. M. Thompson, A. R. Ridley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Many cooperative bird species have an extended period of post-fledging care. Despite the fact that this period of care can last up to several months, it remains a relatively understudied stage of chick development. This period, when young are actively begging but highly mobile, provides an opportunity for young to maximise the amount of care they receive by selectively choosing particular adults to beg from. In pied babblers Turdoides bicolor (a cooperatively breeding passerine), fledglings closely follow foraging adults and beg for food regularly (a behavioural interaction termed social foraging). Using a combination of natural observations and experimental manipulations, we found that fledgling pied babblers preferentially socially forage with adult care-givers who have high foraging success, since this results in young receiving more food. By supplementally feeding adults to artificially increase their foraging success, we increased the proportion of time that fledglings chose to socially forage with them, confirming that fledglings are selectively choosing dyadic interactions with the best adult foragers. These results indicate that pied babbler fledglings are sensitive to and can respond to short-term changes in adult foraging success, enabling them to maximize their nutritional intake, a behavioural adjustment that has long-term benefits in this system.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)69-78
    Number of pages10
    JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Cooperatively breeding
    • Foraging associations
    • Foraging success
    • Pied babblers
    • Provisioning
    • Social foraging


    Dive into the research topics of 'Do fledglings choose wisely? An experimental investigation into social foraging behaviour'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this