For coots, hatching order is crucial ID | Science News

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For coots, hatching order is crucial ID

When birds sneak eggs into others' nest, mom and dad can learn to find their own

4:27pm, December 16, 2009

Calling someone an old coot may be a compliment to their ingenuity. American coots possess cognitive skill enabling them to discern their own chicks from impostors. The wetland birds use hatching order to identify their offspring, researchers report online December 16 in Nature.

The discovery documents another score for host birds in their battle with cheaters that lay eggs in the hosts’ nests, and helps to elucidate the evolutionary pressures that can lead to learning.

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