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Creche Behaviour in the Common Eider Somateria m. mollissima L.

Martin L. Gorman and Henry Milne
Ornis Scandinavica (Scandinavian Journal of Ornithology)
Vol. 3, No. 1 (1972), pp. 21-26
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3676162
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3676162
Page Count: 6
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Creche Behaviour in the Common Eider Somateria m. mollissima L.
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Abstract

Creche behaviour by the young of the Common Eider is described at the breeding colony on the Sands of Forvie, Scotland. Individually marked breeding females and marked broods were used to determine the association which occured within creches. Females attending creches had all recently completed incubation and remained, on average, only 4 days with the young. The chicks fed on Hydrobia, Corophium, and Littorina found on the mudflats, whereas the adults fed mainly on Mytilus and Carcinus which were spatially separated from the mudflats. It is argued that creching has evolved in Eiders where the parent females have to leave their young in order to feed and recover body weight lost during incubation. The role of the 'guard-females' in this situation appears mainly to be that of detecting aerial predators such as gulls or crows.

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