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When parents let kids go hungry

Scientists creating fake crises at bird nests have confirmed a theory about

parents protecting themselves at their offspring's expense.

According to theorists, this type of behavior should occur in species that live

relatively long and bear only a few young at a time. Species with shorter lives

and that produce more offspring per batch should take the opposite path: Parents

ought to risk their own lives for the sake of offspring. Field studies have

confirmed these proposed behavior patterns, say Cameron K. Ghalambor of the

University of California, Davis and Thomas E. Martin of the University of Montana

in Missoula.

They analyzed life patterns for 182 songbirds. Southern Hemisphere species tend to

live longer and lay smaller clutches than northerners, the researchers report in

the April 20 Science. Ghalambor and Martin identified five pairs of species with

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