Child Abuse in Birds?

Nazca booby adult and chick

WFU News Service, August 2011

For one species of seabird in the Galápagos, the child abuse “cycle of violence” found in humans plays out in the wild.

The new study of Nazca boobies by Wake Forest University researchers provides the first evidence from the animal world showing those who are abused when they are young often grow up to be abusers.  The study will appear in the October print edition of the ornithology journal, The Auk.

“We were surprised by the intense interest that many adults show in unrelated young, involving really rough treatment,” said Wake Forest Professor of Biology Dave Anderson, who led the study with Wake Forest graduate student Martina Müller.  “A bird’s history as a target of abuse proved to be a strong predictor of its adult behavior.”

Read the full story by Cheryl Walker