Bird Nurseries: the Ultimate Daycare System

Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Have you ever noticed birds that breed in large groups or colonies who seem to all band together to raise their young? 
Several species do something called chick-creching. A creche can be defined as a nursery where babies or young children are cared for throughout a work day. For birds, it is an unrelated group of young that are brought together for protection, often guarded by a singular parent while other adults feed. Here, hold my baby!
This story of a female Merganser with dozens of ducklings following her became an internet sensation but also pointed to an amazing phenomenon, the creching behaviour that many species use. It often occurs in species that breed in loose colonies where young will all hatch around the same time. By using a day-care system, fledglings are able to feel more safe by losing themselves in a crowd, which ultimately reduces the risk of predation. 
To read the story of this Merganser, click here
Make way for dozens and dozens of Common Merganser ducklings. Photo: Brent Cizek
After sitting on the eggs for nearly 30 days, as you can imagine, female ducks are quite depleted by the time their young hatch. When families are able to combine resources, adults can take turns foraging for food in deeper waters while the young stay closer to the shallows with another care giver. Other species such as geese and terns will also use this system to keep their young safe and the adults well fed!

Turns out, birds have the ultimate daycare systems and have developed a way to keep their young safe and parents well fed. Also makes for an amazing behaviour to observe!

Warmly,

Heather

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