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Bullied booby chicks end up OK

Abuse doesn’t hamper younger birds’ fitness

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3:24pm, August 3, 2010

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — What does not kill them makes them successful blue-footed boobies.

Among seabirds named for their big, cornflower-blue feet, adversity early in life doesn’t necessarily put kids at a lifelong disadvantage, says Hugh Drummond of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City. Though older nestlings relentlessly peck junior ones and snatch away the biggest share of food, a persecuted younger chick often succeeds in life as well as its tormentor does.

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