Foster parenting

To: "Julie Lynn McLaren" <>
Subject: Foster parenting
From: Kim Sterelny <>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 23:06:21 +1000
Last week we noticed that the Striated
Pardalotes[the ones that nest in the wall of the cottage] hadn't been
around all
day to feed the babies, who were making quite a loud noise. We waited until
midday the next day to see if one of the adults would turn up. They didn't.So,
after extending the 50c size hole in the wall, we managed to retrieve 3 baldy
babies.We got a lot of the nest material and put them in it and put them
under a light, but then realised that we couldn't possibly rear these
babies and
would have to kill them.Then, Anna, my daughter, suddenly remembered that a
Willie-wagtail who had built a nest in our car shed had lost&nbsp;1 of her
babies that very day and the other 2 eggs had gone out of the nest.So, the 3
baby Pardalotes were put in the Willie's nest and within 10 minutes she was
feeding them. It is now 6 days after the event and Willie is still feeding her
foster children and sitting on them and the 3 babies are very much


What you have done cannot possibly do any harm. It is quite likely though
that your Pardalotes babies will not breed, though, for many birds sexually
imprint on their parents, both in terms of song and sometimes appearence.
And many at least partially learn their song from their parents. So your
babies may well grow up having rather unusual tastes in sex (for
Pardalotes) and their calls may also be unusual. But that will do no other
bird any harm.

Kim Sterelny
Philosophy Program
Philosophy Department
Victoria University Wellington

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