How an Eight-Sided 'Egg' Ended Up in a Robin's Nest

NSP Faculty in the News: Mark E. Hauber, Harley Jones Van Cleave Professor of Host-Parasite Interactions, Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior

Date

01/29/21
Narrow egg with robin eggs, picture courtesy of Mark E. Hauber

The New York Times:  An experiment by evolutionary biologists offers new insights into birds’ brains.

A study by Mark Hauber, a professor of evolution, ecology, and behavior at the U. of I., and colleagues reveals what robins thought of various dimensions of fake plastic eggs inserted into their nests. The researchers say the thinner the fake eggs got, the more likely the birds were to remove them from the nest. But curiously, the robins were more cautious about throwing out pointy-sided eggs that were closer in width to their own eggs. 

The New York Times Article

Royal Society Open Science Article:  The limits of egg recognition:  testing acceptance thresholds of American robins in response to decreasingly egg-shaped objects in the nest. (01/27/2021)

https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201615