Why parrotlets adopt (or kill) their rivals’ babies | Science & Technology

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Competition over love and real estate drives two extreme behaviors in green-rumped parrotlets, a new study finds—either caring for or killing one another’s babies.

Infanticide and adoption in the animal kingdom have long puzzled scientists. While both males and females of many species are known to kill the babies of their rivals to secure sexual or social advantage, other animals have been observed caring for the young of dead or missing comrades.

In a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers present nearly 30 years of observations revealing why both of these extreme behaviors are surprisingly common among the small South American birds.

“In parrotlets, infanticide and adoption revolve around real estate and love,” says study senior author Steven Beissinger, a professor of environmental science, policy, and management at the University of California,…

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