Posted: January 16, 2012, 9:45 a.m. PST
Wild Eclectus hens sometimes kill their male offspring is their nest is about to be compromised.
In the wild, female Eclectus parrots
sometimes kill their male offspring after they hatch. The reason for this had stumped scientists until recently. In the article, “Adaptive Secondary Sex Ratio Adjustments via Sex-Specific Infanticide in a Bird
,” a team from Fenner School of Environment and Society and the Research School of Biology in Australia seem to have found the answer.
Eclectus nest in areas where flooding is common, according to the researchers, and, if the nest is in danger of flooding, the female makes the choice to kill her male offspring. The reason for this, researchers write, is because female chicks fledge a week earlier than males, which means that a young female Eclectus has more of a chance of surviving the floods because she can fly away. An Eclectus hen puts her efforts into raising the chick more likely to survive. Eclectus chicks are born varying shades of gray, making it easy to tell males and females apart at a very young age, unlike other parrot species.
You can read more Eclectus research here.