Among studies that have quantified the care of precocial young, few have investigated forms of parental care other than vigilance. During the pre-fledging period, Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus columbianus) parents provided simultaneous biparental care by foraging near each other and their cygnets, and cygnets spent more time foraging during bouts in which both parents were foraging nearby than when only one parent was foraging nearby. Parents spent nearly twice as much foraging time on land than did non-parents, a habitat in which cygnets foraged more intensely than parents (i.e., spent more time foraging during foraging bouts) and could graze on protein-rich sedges rather than use more difficult below-water foraging methods. Parents also spent more than twice as much time being vigilant and more than three times as much time defending their territory than non-parents, behaviors that presumably benefited cygents by decreasing predation risk and indirect foraging competition, respectively. Parents therefore incurred the costs of foraging less intensely during foraging bouts, spending more time interacting, more time in vigilance, and less time sleeping/preening than non-parents.
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Parental care in Tundra Swans during the pre-fledgling period