Bird Behaviour: Food sharing

Many species of bird will share food with each other, a behaviour known as allo-feeding. This most commonly occurs between parents feeding their chicks however it is also seen among adults, particularly during the breeding season and as part of courtship behaviour.

But why should a bird waste energy feeding it’s partner who is more than capable of feeding itself? There are several reasons why this food sharing is thought to occur:

– By receiving extra food from her mate prior to breeding a female bird can asses his foraging skills and ability to provide for her and their future young.

– By proving a mate with additional nutrition the male is ensuring his female as as fit and healthy as possible prior to the stresses of egg laying and incubation.

– Food sharing maintains and strengthens the pair bond between the two birds, this bond is key to cooperation and will increase the pairs’ likelihood of breeding success.

It is likely that a combination of all of these things is the driving force behind such allo-feeding behaviour.

Today I was delighted to witness this behaviour between two jackdaws, something I have not seen before despite spending a lot of time with these birds.

The female bird is on the left of the frame and can be seen in a typical begging posture, her body lowered and her beak gaping open to signal to her mate to present her with food.




The first food pass took place on the edge of a shady spot beneath the harbour wall where the contrasting conditions made it difficult to expose the images correctly for both the light and shade.

The pair then fortunately moved into the full sun where it was somewhat easier to capture the action.






Today it appeared that insect grubs were on the menu.






All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2019 ©

If you like what you see, you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram (@greyfeatherphotography) to see my latest photographs. Hit the little ‘follow’ button on the bottom to subscribe to my blog. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.