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Natural observations of Snares Crested Penguins indicated that parents recognised their chicks and that chicks also recognise their parents. Calls appeared to be more important as recognition cues than were visual signals, and the nest was used as a meeting place for chicks and parents during the creche stage. We used playback experiments to test the ability of chicks to recognise their parents' calls in the first and second weeks of the creche stage and immediately before fledging. Several measures (i.e. Alert, Directed Behaviour, Interest, Calling, Wandering and Ignoring) were used to record the behavioural responses of chicks to call playbacks. Chicks were more responsive to their parents' calls than to calls of other adults nesting in the colony or to the calls of Little Blue Penguins. Chicks about to fledge discriminated between calls of parents and other adults more often than did younger chicks. Chicks of all ages recognised the calls of their parents whether played back from the nest or another site. This finding indicated that vocal cues were more important than location cues in recognition.
Bird Behavior is an international and interdisciplinary journal that publishes high-quality, original research on descriptive and experimental analyses of species-typical avian behavior, including the areas of ethology, behavioral ecology, comparative psychology, and behavioral neuroscience.