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Filial cannibalism in the Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark Eremopterix leucotis

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Cannibalism is a rare event in passerines, especially filial cannibalism. Here I report on two instances of filial cannibalism observed in the Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark Eremopterix leucotis in the Limpopo province, South Africa. In both instances it was only the females that engaged in filial cannibalism. It is suggested that a dead nestling is viewed as a waste product that must be moved from the nest as part of nest sanitation, either by carrying it from the nest or by consuming it. These events represent not only the first record of cannibalism in the Alaudidae, but also only the second record of a lark eating another vertebrate.
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Keywords: Alaudidae; Eremopterix leucotis; filial cannibalism; nest sanitation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Biodiversity, University of Limpopo, Private Bag X1106, Sovenga, 0787, South Africa , Email: [email protected]

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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