About the Author

Reece Biehler

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Reece was born and raised in Johannesburg where from a young age he nurtured his love for the African Bush through countless holidays to the Kruger National Park. It was here where he found his 'happy place' and it would only be a ...

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on Unravelling the Avian Art of Co-operative Breeding

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A very interesting article on birds’ behavior, Reece.
I didn’t know that so many birds make use of helpers. It really makes sense. The younger bird can practice their skills of looking for food and feeding chicks and the breeding pair can rest a little bit when the helpers are on duty.

Hi Christa. It’s an incredibly fascinating behavioural trait! I was blown away finding out just how many species employ this tactic!

Reece, thanks for your insights into the behaviors of many of the bird species at Londolozi. Parenting is a tough job no matter what animal or species including humans. We all could use some help from time to time.

Hi William! I am so glad that you found this blog as interesting as I did researching it!

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Fascinating insight into a topic that I had never considered, Reece. I realized some birds nest communally but not that so many species have a cooperative breeding strategy.

Hi Alex! When we dive into the intricacies of the avian world, it is just so evident how much more there is to learn.

It seems logic to assist the dominant pair with helping to incubate and feed the chick’s for safety in the circle and for survival. Never knew that birds did this. Thank you Reece for this interesting information. Know I know why there are always a lot of birds together, for example the white chrested helmetshrike. We always see about 8 or 10 of them together.

Hi Valmai, I am so glad that you enjoyed this blog! There are so many more species that practice this behavior than I originally thought. Truly fascinating.

Fascinating information Reece. What this tells me is that there are many species of birds that utilize the same method of breeding and raising their chicks, as painted dogs and hyenas do, inasmuch there are designated breeding adults that are assisted in raising their pups by other members of the pack. I’m sure there are more species that employ this same method of cooperative breeding and parenting. I suppose lions could be examples as well. There’s always something new to learn.

Hi Denise, you are so right! There are many different species that practice this behavior, including the smallest carnivores that we see; the Dwarf Mongoose! I suppose Lions and Hyena’s could employ a type of co-operative breeding behaviour. Although their breeding is not solely designated to a dominant or alpha pair, the fact that young are integrated into the group and will ultimately assist with protection, defense and feeding.

Birds are one of my favorite groups of animals. I had no idea so many different species participated in cooperative breeding. In larger flocks, do the helpers only assist their own parents, or are they likely to help with other families as well? Humans aren’t that different, especially in larger families where older siblings assist in child care.

Hi Chelsea, I am so delighted that you enjoyed this blog! I suppose it would depend on the species of bird and how large the group is but that is a big possibility that they would ultimately assist others within a larger flock.
Help is always welcomed whether it’s humans or animals!

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10 April, 2798
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