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November 20, 2019 - Inside Science

Birds Raised by Other Species Use 'Password' to Recognize Their Own Kind

Birds Raised by Other Species Use 'Password' to Recognize Their Own Kind
CowbirdFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Cowbirds outsource parenting to other species, but an innate password tells their children to copy cowbird songs.

Most songbirds learn to sing by copying songs they hear around them. But young brown-headed cowbirds face a problem: they aren't raised by their own kind. Female cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of more than 100 different kinds of birds, foisting the work of chick-rearing onto unwitting foster-parents.

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