Begging Behaviour, Food Delivery and Food Acquisition in Nests with Brood Parasitic Nestlings

  • Manuel SolerEmail author
Part of the Fascinating Life Sciences book series (FLS)


The existence of a brood parasitic nestling in a host nest implies an intrusion in the parent–offspring communication system, which will have important implications in both food delivery by parents and food acquisition by nestlings. The aim of this chapter is to review such implications taking into account two issues that are crucial in both food delivery and food acquisition in nonparasitized nests: breeding strategy of the species (brood reducer or clutch-size adjuster) and difference in size among nestlings in a brood. First, I review mechanisms allowing brood parasitic nestlings to secure parental provisioning from unrelated caregivers, such as exaggerated begging, mimicry of host begging calls, emitting a begging call that stimulates a wide range of hosts, tuning the begging call in a way that optimizes food provisioning, mimicking the begging calls of a brood, integrating visual and vocal nestling displays and procuring host assistance at the nest. Second, I review evidence showing that exaggerated begging behaviour exhibited by brood parasitic nestlings influences begging behaviour of their nestmates and food distribution decisions by foster parents. In addition, I present novel data testing the “integration of signals” hypothesis.



I thank the reviewers Tomas Grim, Rebecca Kilner and James River for their constructive and helpful comments and José Ángel Soler Ortiz and Manuel Martín-Vivaldi for making Figs. 27.1 and 27.2, respectively. In addition, I thank M. Martín-Vivaldi, E. Røskaft, C. Moskát and J.J. Palomino for allowing me to include in this chapter our unpublished results testing the integration of signals hypothesis.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Grupo Coevolución, Unidad Asociada al CSICUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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