Within-brood patterns of paternity and paternal behavior in red-winged blackbirds

David F. Westneat, Anne B. Clark, Katherine C. Rambo, D. F. Westneat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


We video-taped male and female red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) feeding individual chicks in order to test the hypothesis that food might be differently allocated to within-pair offspring and extra-pair young. We found no evidence that paternity influenced the allocation of food by either males or females. Both males and females fed male offspring significantly more, but there was no tendency for paternity to be skewed by gender. Females fed older offspring significantly more, whereas males did not; extra-pair fertilizations, however, were not associated with lay or hatch order of the chicks. Given that males do not appear to discriminate within-pair from extra-pair offspring directly, these results are consistent with current theory on the effect of paternity on paternal behavior. We discuss briefly some of the possible reasons why discrimination might be lacking in red-winged blackbirds and in other species in which the possibility of discrimination of paternity and allocation of paternal behavior has been studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-356
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1995


  • Agelaius phoeniceus
  • Extra-pair young
  • Parental food allocation
  • Paternal behavior
  • Paternity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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