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Multiple males help female pheasants with parenting

Cara J

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Few females are lucky enough to have a group of males doting on their offspring. But female pheasants in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park are getting exactly that, thanks to an unusual set of circumstances that leave both females and territories in short supply. In this non-native population, kalij pheasants (Lophura leucomelanos) form family groups with one female and up to six males, all of whom cooperate to protect and feed the chicks. “It is an indicator of how plastic the behavior of animals can be,” said Lijin Zeng, an ecologist at the University of California, Riverside and lead author of a recent study in The Auk: Ornithological Advances. “If we put our birds back into their natural habitat, they may behave just like the other birds over there.” Kalij pheasants are native to Asia. While little is known about how they behave in their native forests, research suggests that the birds breed monogamously or in groups of one male and several females. Both breeding systems are common in the animal kingdom, allowing everyone involved to produce their own offspring. But sometimes, the best strategy is to help someone else. Cooperative breeding — when adults help to raise offspring that aren’t [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/multiple-males-help-female-pheasants-with-parenting/

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