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Tests in the mid-1990s, for example, showed that pigeon nestlings that had been recently fed didn't spend as much time begging as those that researchers had stinted.
Burford and her colleagues at Beloit (Wis.) College, red-winged blackbirds delivered extra food to their nestlings when researchers enhanced the begging cacophony by broadcasting recorded chick calls for 5 minutes.
The type and quality of nestling diets can provide insight into the life histories of birds.
Diets of nestling tree swallows have been examined in many habitats, including wetlands (Blancher et a1., 1987; Blancher and MeNicol, 1991), open fields and sewage lagoons (Quinney and Ankney, 1985) and around artificial ponds (McCarty and Winkler, 1999).
Thus, a nestling that's battling infection might not have much pigment to spare for throat color, whereas a healthy nestling can flash a dramatic red.
They also assessed how much care each bird provided the nestlings.
Droge and Patricia Adair Gowaty of Clemson (S.C.) University took advantage of that fact to study bluebird nestlings. Using video-cameras mounted next to 15 bluebird nests, they observed that both mothers and fathers left the nests to gather spiders, grasshoppers, cherries and other tasty treats for their young.