Data on the occurrence and frequency of adoption of chicks by adult Pied Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) were collected by monitoring individually color-banded chicks on alkaline lakes in the Kiskunság National Park in central Hungary between 1998 and 2000. Fifty-three adoptions were observed, and 22% of the resighted broods (N = 244) contained on average 1.7 (range 1-6) adopted chicks. Ninety-two chicks, or 13% of the color-banded chicks (N = 697) were adopted. The frequency of adoption was similar among years and was positively related to the number of pairs within a colony. At least 60% of the adoptions occurred in the nesting colonies, whereas adoptions during brood movements or in the brood-rearing areas, as well as brood amalgamations, were rare. More than two-thirds (68%) of the adopted chicks in the colony left the natal brood and joined other broods voluntarily. The remaining adopted chicks were the last to hatch in their own brood and were adopted into another brood after being left behind by their parents. Adults did not behave aggressively toward young alien chicks and always accepted them. Adoption appears to be initiated by chicks in Pied Avocets, and it may be associated with small fitness costs, or may even provide benefits, for the adoptees or the adopting adults.
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Vol. 25 • No. 1