Graduate Researcher: Starlie Belnap

    Determining which features of maternal hen behavior attract chicks following hatching has primarily focused on auditory and to some extent visual stimulation. Quail hicks show a strong attraction to their species specific maternal call, but whether and how this auditory preference is integrated with visual stimuli is poorly understood. In this study we are assessing the social responsiveness and preferences of bobwhite quail chicks using robotic hen models that allow us to manipulate hen movement in concert with her maternal vocalizations. In particular, we are interested in the role of redundancy across movement patterns and vocalizations in guiding chicks’ attraction to social stimuli. Initial results suggest that chicks are sensitive to hens’ movement patterns and quickly develop a preference for a hen’s movements that are redundant (synchronized) with her vocalizations.

 

The Role of Avian Hen Movement in Shaping Neonatal Social Preferences