Duck Billed Questions

To: "'Laurie Knight'" <>, "'Birding Aus'" <>
Subject: Duck Billed Questions
From: "Ruth Woodrow" <>
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2013 22:19:35 +1100
Just on the spoonbills, I watch the parents feed their young each year at
Serendip. When the young want to eat, they bob their head up and down
constantly in front of the parent until it finally shoves food down its
throat. We call the young "teaspoons" :-).


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Laurie Knight
Sent: Thursday, 28 November 2013 9:39 PM
To: Birding Aus
Subject: Duck Billed Questions


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

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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