Duck Billed Questions

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Duck Billed Questions
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2013 20:39:28 +1000

All mammals feed their young. Few if any species of fish, reptiles or amphibians feed their young. Most species of birds feed their young.

I've been watching PB Ducks raising their young. A few weeks ago I saw a parent sitting on a rock with a large number of freshly hatched young nestling around it. This got me on the thinking about the relationship between parents and young and led to a series of questions.

1. Which groups of birds don't feed their young? From what I can see, PB Ducks don't feed their young, which presumably is the reason why the young are out of the nest virtually straight after hatching. I expect that the young learn to feed by watching their parents. I expect this is the case for many other species of ducks.

Other groups of birds that don't feed their young (that spring to mind) are the mound-builders (who have to fend for themselves as soon as they hatch) and the cuckoos (and other nest parasites - they leave it to other species to feed the young). What other groups don't feed their young? (e.g. Spoonbills?)

2. Conversely, which, if any, duck species feed their young?

3. Why don't duck species feed their young? Is it related to their bills not being suited to food transfer? (Duck-billed platypus avoid this problem by feeding their young milk). Or is it that the food is difficult to transfer?

4. A related question is what groups of birds that do feed their young leave the nest immediately after hatching? Some species such as grebes and moorhens have their young on the move when they are knee- high to a grasshopper. Are the earliest movers swimmers? I know that thick-knees (walkers) get going fairly early as well, but I don't think they are on the move in the first night. Obviously species that fly from the nest have to fledge first ...

Regards, Laurie.

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