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Misandry In Teh Animule Kingdom!!!!7!

Misandry, polyandry, whatever. I know it’s some kind of -andry. Hordeling Ron Sullivan and her partner in crime Joe Eaton have been spending a lot of time in the San Joaquin Valley of late, and Joe has a new post up on Ron’s blog riffing on their recent frequent sightings of Swainson’s hawks. It turns out that the hawks engage in behavior that completely undermines the traditional institution of marriage as Gahd intended:

Polyandry, it seems, is not that unusual in buteos and related hawks. It’s more or less standard for the Galapagos hawk, which genetic studies indicate is the Swainson’s closest relative. (The i’o or Hawai’ian hawk is also near kin. Swainson’s is typically a long-distance migrant, with most of the population traveling from the North American plains to the Argentine pampas every year. You can see how accidental colonization of remote islands might happen.) Polyandrous mating groups also occur in the more distantly related Harris’s hawk. The advantage? Male raptors often provide prey for their incubating mates and nestlings. A female with two male providers would have a better chance of successfully fledging her brood.

The MRAs were right all along: it’s all about the child support. How dare those ladyhawks go against biology? Don’t they understand about gathering berries?

Anyway, it’s a good post by a longtime favorite natural history writer. And the post title proves that Parentheses Matter.

Speaking of people writing good stuff at the Coyot.es Network, we’ve added two new blogs over there: “InyoOwnWay” by Owens Valley biologist Mike Prather and “Miracle or Mirage?” by renewable energy maven Patrick Donnelly-Shores. We’ve got another new addition pending once she answers her email.

Comments

  1. mothra says

    Either every other member of the genus Buteo is more closely related to Swainson’s hawk than Harris’ hawk is, or the genus Buteo is paraphyletic.

  2. ChasCPeterson says

    The advantage [of polyandry]? Male raptors often provide prey for their incubating mates and nestlings. A female with two male providers would have a better chance of successfully fledging her brood.

    well, yeah. (although for the female it has to be about the number of succesful fledglings, not broods.)
    The more interesting question here is: what’s in it for the males? (If I recall corretly, the story for Galapagos hawks involves a severely limited number of viable nesting sites and a concomitant large nonbreeding flock.)

  3. Stacy says

    The more interesting question here is: what’s in it for the males?

    Same thing that’s in it for the females, surely: their young have a better chance of surviving? I don’t know enough about these birds to be more specific. Perhaps any given clutch is likely to contain eggs from each father, or maybe the fathers are related to one another and so have a stake in the survival of offspring no matter who did the fertilizing.

  4. Stacy says

    But howsoever that may be, the important point here is OMG slutty slut hawks! When they’re not ridin’ the aerial cock carousel, they’re sittin’ around in their nests eating the hawk equivalent of bon bons while their hapless mates slave to bring home the hawk-bacon! It’s an outrage.

  5. David Marjanović says

    or the genus Buteo is paraphyletic

    …as easily half of all bird genera have turned out to be, IIRC.

  6. Rey Fox says

    Either every other member of the genus Buteo is more closely related to Swainson’s hawk than Harris’ hawk is, or the genus Buteo is paraphyletic.

    The Harris’ Hawk is in the genus Parabuteo.

  7. says

    We have Swainson’s hawks here from March to September. It took a while to be able to distinguish them from Red-tail hawks (which are all over the place), but we can tell them apart now, when they are flying about.

  8. Artor says

    Of course, when the female hawks do their own hunting, they only take down 70% of the game a male takes for the same work. It’s Natural Law.

  9. says

    When they’re not ridin’ the aerial cock carousel

    I just learned of that stupid term this week.
    I suddenly starred getting hundreds of hits to this Flickr photo from Reddit:

    Checked to see what was up and found a nice fine long thread of misogynists.
    Wish there was a way I could redirect hits coming from Reddit to something they deserve.

  10. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Gambel’s quail also form polyandrous trios … it’s an advantage to them to have three adults guarding the chicks for the first weeks.

    Those shameless hussies will also ABANDON their fluffy infants to the care of their mate or mates and shack up with another male or two for her second brood of the season.

  11. Jerry says

    So when polyandrous hawks shriek, it’s a buteo call?

    (I’m sorry, really, but I couldn’t resist.)

  12. Ichthyic says

    Don’t they understand about gathering berries?

    *pictures a very confused looking hawk*

  13. SteveV says

    Cornish Choughscommit other sins

    2009 5 8 Two pairs successful, two young pairs attempt to breed, plus one male pair

    2010 6 9 Three pairs successful, two attempt and one male pair

    2011 6 15 Four pairs successful, one pair’s eggs predated, plus one male pair

    2012 7 18 Five pairs productive, plus one young pair and one male pair

  14. ChasCPeterson says

    Perhaps any given clutch is likely to contain eggs from each father, or maybe the fathers are related to one another and so have a stake in the survival of offspring no matter who did the fertilizing.

    Yeah, perhaps. Please understand that the existence of these (and other) hypotheses is exactly why i said it was an interesting question. ‘Because it increases fitness’ is not an answer to anything.

    Either every other member of the genus Buteo is more closely related to Swainson’s hawk than Harris’ hawk is, or the genus Buteo is paraphyletic.

    The Harris’ Hawk is in the genus Parabuteo.

    That’s two ways of saying the same thing.

  15. maestroso88 says

    We’ve had Swainson’s nesting next door for the past several years now (I live in the valley surrounded by farmland, so it’s great to see such unique wildlife). It’s great to see them soaring just 20 feet overhead and hearing their calls!

  16. says

    I guess the next woman who’s been caught cheating can just point at those birds and then everybody will believe that it’s just in her nature and science shows it because the best place to look for any explenation about human behaviour is, was and will always be other species, right?

  17. mothra says

    @8 Rey Fox. That was my point. The post indicated a close relationship between Swainson’s hawk and a few other Buteo species such as Galapagos hawk. The post further went on to indicate a relationship with Harris’ hawk. If current taxonomy of Accipitridaeis correct, then every other species of Buteo worldwide is more closely related to Swainson’s hawk than the Harris’ hawk is [because Harris’ hawk is not regarded as congeneric], or the genus Buteo is paraphyletic [because closely related species have been placed in different genera].

    Not that this is unherd of- as David Marjanovic notes (#7). I am currently in mourning over the loss of the genus Dendroica, having finally gotten over the loss of Chen hyperborea.