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The Development of Flight Behaviours in Birds

Abstract : Flight is a unique adaptation at the core of many behaviours in most bird species, whether it be foraging, migration or breeding. Birds have developed a wide diversity of flight modes (e.g. flapping, gliding, soaring, hovering) which involves very specialized behaviours. A key issue when studying flight behaviours is to understand how they develop through all the ontogenetic stages of birds, from the embryo to the flying adult. This question typically involves classical debates on animal behaviour about the importance of maturation and experience. Here, we review the literature available on the development of flight behaviours in birds. First, we focus on the early period when young birds are not yet capable of flight. We discuss examples and show how endogenous processes (e.g. wing flapping in the nest, flight development timing) and environmental factors (e.g. maternal stress, nutritional stress) can influence the development of flight behaviours. Then, we review several examples showing the different processes involved in the development of flight in flight-capable juveniles (e.g. practice, trial and error learning, social learning). Despite the lack of experimental studies investigating this specific question at different developmental stages, we show that several patterns can be identified, and we anticipate that the development of new tracking techniques will allow us to study this question more thoroughly in more bird species.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 1:33:28 PM
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Geoffrey Ruaux, Sophie Lumineau, Emmanuel de Margerie. The Development of Flight Behaviours in Birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2020, 287 (1929), ⟨10.1098/rspb.2020.0668⟩. ⟨hal-02879876⟩

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