Duck Billed Questions

To: Nikolas Haass <>
Subject: Duck Billed Questions
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2013 22:10:50 +1000
Thanks Nikolas

I also had a look at

The unanswered questions are

1. Do any duck species feed their young?

2. Is the fact that the young can fend for themselves the reason why some precocial species don't feed their young?

Regards, Laurie.

On 28/11/2013, at 9:20 PM, Nikolas Haass wrote:

Hi Laurie,

See here:

BTW: Some fish (e.g. cichlids) feed their young. Spoonbill chicks are altricial and adults feed their chicks.



Nikolas Haass

Brisbane, QLD

From: Laurie Knight <>
To: Birding Aus <>
Sent: Thursday, November 28, 2013 8:39 PM
Subject: [Birding-Aus] 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 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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