Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology

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Parent–offspring recognition in the Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus

Stuart Taylor, Michael R Perrin


Recognition by vocal characteristics between parents and their offspring is thought to be ubiquitous in colonially nesting avian species. The Brown-headed Parrot Poicephalus cryptoxanthus nests in hollows in trees. However, when the chicks fledge they leave the nest and for the following three weeks spend their time in a tree where they are fed by their parents. As the fledglings are mobile and cryptic, returning parents must locate their own chicks. In this study a series of playback experiments was carried out, which showed that the chicks recognise their parents by voice. A simultaneous mirror experiment indicated that recognition was not reciprocated, although there may be alternative explanations for this behaviour. When the young began to forage with their parents, vocal stimuli did not induce any response from adult or chick. We suggest that vocal recognition becomes secondary to visual recognition as development proceeds.

Ostrich 2008, 79(2): 211–214

AJOL African Journals Online