The Loh Down On Science

These babies watch out for their littler siblings!

Big brother is watching!  But that's a good thing!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying, at least if you're a very young bird.

Most chicks in a bird’s nest hatch at different times.  This creates a pecking order, where the firstborn is the biggest, strongest, and best fed.  And when it flies the coop?  The rest follow–even Mom!  Sadly, the youngest sibling, too small and weak, is often left to starve.

Except among house wrens.

Meet Keith Bowers from Illinois State University.  He monitored wren nests in central Illinois. He noted age differences among chicks, and the day they fledged, or left the nest.  He noticed something, well, so cute.  The oldest chick didn’t initiate mass exodus when it was ready.  It waited until baby brother or sister was strong enough to go too! Awww!

This supports the idea that helping our relatives benefits the family genes.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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If only I could convince my tween children of that.  And to pitch that X-Box right out of the next.  Ah, well.


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