The Effect of Parental Food Supply on Parental Feeding and Squab Growth in Pigeons, Columba livia


The King's College, 10766-97 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5H 2M1


The growth and survival of nidicolous birds is determined by variables affecting the frequency and allocation of parental feedings. We manipulated adult pigeons' food supply and measured the effect of food availability and hatching order on the frequency and allocation of parental feeding, squab growth, and parental weight loss. Food availability did not affect any of the dependent variables during the first week, when squabs are fed crop milk. Throughout the remainder of the nestling period, when squabs are fed foraged grain, parents in the food-poor condition delivered fewer regurgitations and lost more weight, and then squabs gained less weight. Within broods, neither the allocation of parental feedings nor squab growth was differential, even in the food-poor environment. Apparently, production of crop milk is buffered from the parents' food supply, thus allowing both squabs to grow rapidly during the first few post-hatch days. The result is nondifferential feeding and growth within broods and delayed effects of food availability on the overall frequency of parental feeding, parental weight loss, and squab growth.