Hatch a Thief: Brains incline birds toward a life of crime

11:40am, December 12, 2007

It's not brawn but brains that matter in the rise of crime families among birds.

That's one of the conclusions from a study of traits shared by families of bird species notorious for stealing food, says Julie Morand-Ferron of the University of Québec in Montréal.

The propensity to pilfer turns up in some lineages of birds more than in others, and ideas abound about what bird features typically accompany thievery and might have favored its evolution. Morand-Ferron and her colleagues tested proposed criminal profiles by analyzing 856 reports in the scientific literature of bird-on-bird food snatching.

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