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Re: Arms into wings



In a message dated 3/4/99 6:43:37 PM, Dinogeorge writes:

<< Just out of curiosity, do roadrunners use their wings for brooding? >>

Interesting point. I have not found any photos of such, but then again, how
many photographers spend lots of time sticking their upper torso into cactus-
piles, anyway? If they did, they probably would get a photo of a parent on a
nest with wings slightly lowered, no chicks in sight. This is one thing that
has inhibited most people from realizing that most birds brood with their
wings -- the darned things make such effective shields that it is nearly
impossible to capture DATA proving that the brooding takes place. Don't worry
though, Mark and I are continuing to delve deeper into the literature. Found a
cool series of photos recently. They go: 1. Mother Mallard squatting in grass,
all by herself. 2. Mother Mallard rising from squatting position, with primary
feathers pinned to ground by a mass that is ON TOP of them, still invisible
beneath belly. 3. Mother Mallard with cute little tan and brown butts showing
underneath her and beside her primaries, which now are free. 4. Mother Mallard
walking across grass with eight chicks around her. Voila.
    Many articles and life histories of birds show pictures with text or
captions stating that the animal is covering chicks, which are not shown.
Wings are characteristically lowered from their fully folded position, and
sometimes the authors note that this is a brooding posture. Wing brooding is
extremely widespread across all subfamilies of birds. Don't worry, in addition
to five pictures in our upcoming Dinofest paper, we are pursuing an ever-
increasing list of birds for which someone finally got an adequate picture
like those described above.
    By the way, if anyone out there has access to or can point us toward good
photos of parents hovering over or sheltering babies beneath their wings, we
would appreciate hearing about them. We are considering a follow-on manuscript
(JVP?) that includes more photographic evidence regarding the extent of wing
feather brooding, to help us define it as a BASAL bird characteristic, for
obvious (I hope, by now) reasons.
    Tom Hopp