Raising young people – A nest of information

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After the article on mating and egg laying, here is the rest! How are young people raised by their parents and how do they grow up in nature? Here is a new article from Parrot Wildlife Foundation!

Eggs hatch after incubation. Parrots being nesting, the young are born naked or with a few down feathers on the body and eyes closed. They are then completely dependent on their parents for food. Not all psittaciformes breed their young in the same way. There are, however, many similarities in the process and the way it is implemented.

As soon as the egg comes out of the egg, the parents must start feeding the young at regular intervals so that they can then benefit from normal growth. During the feeding, the little ones benefit from a food rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements. These are actually hard foods like fruits, seeds, buds, insects which are simply ingested by the parents and pre-digested in the crop. The parents then take care of regurgitating the consumed food which, once pre-digested, turns into a porridge. In this form, the food is easily digestible for the young in the nest who, during the first days of life, spend a lot of energy to develop their immune system.

Biologists studying parrots in their natural environment tell us that most of the time the female remains constantly with the young, especially in the first days. It is the male who is responsible for finding the food that will feed the young but also the female. The male therefore has a big responsibility, it is on these wings that the survival of the litter rests. Daily, young people grow and evolve. So quickly, their eyes open and their feathers develop over several weeks. As this growth progresses, they will also develop their motor skills to start moving around the nest using their legs.

The acquisition of social behaviors

It is also during this period that young people will also develop the premises of social behavior. Indeed, they are always stuck between brothers and sisters and their parents. It is once plucked that young people will be more and more curious. They also observe what is happening outside through the nest hole. It is also at this time that they will begin to become aware of their wings by strengthening them several times during the day by beating the wings in the nest. The development of their curiosity is an important point since it will condition their first flight. It is during this period that parrots are the most curious and the most inclined to learn and store information, we then speak of cerebral plasticity. From the first exits from the nest, the young will learn by observation, we then speak of vicarious learning. It is simply the process by which an individual models his behavior in the image of the behavior of other individuals with a progressive understanding of the totality of the situation and the actions. It is a process that brings together four conditions in cognitive ethology. Let us take the example of eating behavior to illustrate them.

Attention: The young parrot focuses on the behavior of its parents who are eating dates from the palm tree acrocomia aculeata. He finds that it is necessary to pick the fruit and remove the thick shell covering it using the beak by positioning the fruit in one of its legs for more gripping mobility. Once the shell is removed, he finds that it is possible to eat the fruit inside.

Retention : The young person will memorize this behavior.

The course : The young will in turn adopt the behavior in order to be able to eat. He will even try several times before being able to succeed as the shell of the fruit of this palm tree is so robust.

Motivation : The behavior is useful in the eyes of the young bird from the moment it succeeds in breaking the shell and eating its contents. At this point, this behavior will make sense and he will integrate it in a normal way into his behavioral repertoire. This is how young people will be able to develop the acquisition of good behavior such as: the acquisition of theft behavior, social behavior, eating behavior, vocal behavior, etc. It is therefore a moment of socialization where they will learn the attitudes relating to their species. All these tools will then allow them to be able to emancipate themselves more from their parents by being autonomous. Throughout the whole process of reproduction and rearing of the young, we see in parrots the importance of community life where young birds depend on adult birds for the acquisition of many behaviors useful for their survival!

References :

© Article entirely taken from Parrot Wildlife Foundation, December 2020, https://parrotwildlifefoundation.org/2020/12/02/la-reproduction-des-psittaciformes-2/


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