Nestling activity levels during begging behaviour predicts activity level and body mass in adulthood

Luke S C McCowan*, Simon C. Griffith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Across a range of species including humans, personality traits, or differences in behaviour between individuals that are consistent over time, have been demonstrated. However, few studies have measured whether these consistent differences are evident in very young animals, and whether they persist over an individual's entire lifespan. Here we investigated the begging behaviour of very young cross-fostered zebra finch nestlings and the relationship between that and adult activity levels. We found a link between the nestling activity behaviour head movements during begging, measured at just five and seven days after hatching, and adult activity levels, measured when individuals were between three and three and a half years old. Moreover, body mass was found to be negatively correlated with both nestling and adult activity levels, suggesting that individuals which carry less body fat as adults are less active both as adults and during begging as nestlings. Our work suggests that the personality traits identified here in both very young nestlings and adults may be linked to physiological factors such as metabolism or environmental sources of variation. Moreover, our work suggests it may be possible to predict an individual's future adult personality at a very young age, opening up new avenues for future work to explore the relationship between personality and a number of aspects of individual life history and survival.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere566
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Activity
  • Begging
  • Begging movements
  • Behavioural consistency
  • Developmental biology
  • Ontogeny
  • Personality
  • Zebra finch

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