Would parents discriminates between their offspring on the basis of their looks? Yes, claim Bruce E Lyon from the University of Toronto and his colleagues, who have found that American coots often prefer to feed those chicks that have a colourful plumage rather than the plainer ones (Nature, Vol 371, No 6494).
Lyon's group compared the feeding rates, and the growth and the survival rates of chicks whose orange plumes had either been trimmed or left inact. It found that orange chicks were fed more often, grew faster, and showed higher rates of survival than their trimmed clutch-mates.
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