Researchers have noticed an interesting behavior among birds. Certain species often choose to reproduce later and, instead, help other birds of the same species take care of their offspring. Although it might seem peculiar, researchers clarified that they saw the opportunity of being in another specimen’s territory as a chance for later inheriting it.
Why do birds help others with their offspring?
According to the researchers, about 10 percent of all species exhibit such a behavior. Some individuals choose to give up their chance of reproduction for later and, instead, help some of their peers in the tending of their offspring. In fact, such a behavior is present among some mammals, insects, or fish as well.
Previously, researchers thought animals did all they could to pass on their genes to future generations. However, this hypothesis is contrary to the recent observations, so researchers have started questioning what birds can benefit from if they help other specimens with their offspring.
Initially, researchers claimed they only help those specimens which are related to them. This way, they can still make sure their genes survive without having to engage in reproduction. However, a recent study, published in the journal Nature Communications, contradicts this idea.
Birds are complex being which can set and achieve goals
For this study, researchers studied 44 species of birds, and some of them denied their own reproduction to help others. Some of those helped their relatives indeed, but others were more likely to go towards strangers if they saw even the slightest chance for them to inherit their territory.
This is quite clever, as it makes perfect sense to make the territory grow and be worth more. Also, once the helper comes to inherit it, once it finally reproduces, the offspring it has taken care of can play the role of helpers themselves. Such a behavior is interesting to see in an animal, and suggests they are much more complex beings, which can act towards a goal.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons