News Stories

It's for the Birds

Birds are more like us than we realize. They eavesdrop on their neighbors in order to figure out where to build their nests and once, their eggs hatch, they sometime engage in "chick abuse," the bird equivalent of child abuse. And just like humans, birds that were abused THEMSELVES are more likely to abuse their offspring!

For one species of seabird in the Galápagos-- Nazca boobies--the child abuse "cycle of violence" found in humans plays out in the wild. This is the first evidence from the animal world showing those who are abused when they are young often grow up to be abusers. Among the ocean-going seabirds live in colonies in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, victimization by adults on other birds' chicks is widespread. They raise solitary nestlings on the ground and frequently leave their offspring unattended while foraging at sea, so there is much opportunity for adult birds to bully and beat up neighbor nestlings.

Biologist Dave Anderson says, "A bird's history as a target of abuse proved to be a strong predictor of its adult behavior." Traumatic abuse of developing young significantly increases the chances those maltreated individuals will exhibit the same maltreatment later in life as adults.

Anne and Whitley have taken a lot of abuse over the years, but we're still here. We hope to be around tomorrow too, but that can only happen with YOUR support, so please: Subscribe today!



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