Life as a wild baby bird can involve a lot of stress; competing with your siblings, dealing with extreme weather, and going hungry due to habitat loss are just a few examples. However, birds have an amazing capacity to overcome stresses experienced early in life and go on to reproductive success as adults, according to a new Perspective paper in The Auk: Ornithological Advances by Hugh Drummond and Sergio Ancona of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Some experiments with birds in captivity have found that increasing early-life stress through food deprivation, elevated stress hormones, and other means has negative effects once birds reach adulthood, causing them to live shorter lives and produce fewer offspring. However, Drummond and Ancona argue that the artificial stresses created in these experiments go well beyond what would ever be experienced by wild birds and therefore don’t reflect what happens in nature. Reviewing the available studies describing how wild birds fare as adults after experiencing stress in the nest, they give several examples of birds’ ability to compensate for their early disadvantages, making adjustments such as beginning to breed earlier in life. Read the full paper at http://www.aoucospub...42/AUK-14-244.1.
Birds Show Surprising Resilience in the Face of Natural Stresses
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