Feed me or I’ll die, and possibly take you with me!

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Years ago it was pointed out by somebody, probably Tinbergen or Lack or Wynn-Edwards or one of the other great bird-savvy ethologists of the day, that young Pelicans would blackmail their parents by biting their own wings, a very self defeating activity for a bird with a huge and powerful beak. “If you don’t feed me right way, I’m taking off this wing and your reproductive success is done!” they seemed to be saying.

More recently a study of Babblers in South Africa may have demonstrated a similar kind of extortion….

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