Birds Raised by Other Species Use 'Password' to Recognize Their Own Kind
(Inside Science) -- 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.
Now, a new paper describes how the cowbird chicks may learn to recognize and sing their own species’ songs.
"We kind of opened the paper with this existential question," said Sarah London, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago. "How do you know who you are if no one's shown you who you are?"
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Editor: Nala Rogers, Staff Writer