Moms Handle the House Cleaning in Cooperatively Breeding Carrion Crows

(The Auk: Ornithological Advances, May 13, 2015)—In cooperatively breeding bird species such as the Carrion Crow (Corvus corone corone), the members of a group share the responsibilities of raising a brood of chicks—but that doesn’t mean everyone contributes equally. Instead, it’s the mother Carrion Crows who carry out most of the tasks related to nest sanitation, including preening the chicks and fluffing the inside of the nest, according to a new paper in The Auk: Ornithological Advances. Diana Bolopo of the University of Valladolid and her colleagues filmed the behavior of Carrion Crows at nests and recorded how individuals spent their time, as well as providing supplemental food at some nests to see if that influenced sanitation behavior. They found that neither did all individuals share all tasks equally, nor were some specialists in either feeding or sanitation; rather, females in general and mothers in particular took on a disproportionate amount of sanitation tasks. The authors suggest that breeding females may be acting in their own self-interest, as they spend more time in the nest and are more exposed to germs and parasites in the nest as a result. Read the full paper at