Egg Burial in the Ringneck Dove (Streptopelia risoria): A Potential Laboratory Model System for Egg-Rejection Research?

Melissa Burns-Cusato, Arpit Rana, Will Hawkins, Zach Young, Mark E. Hauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In avian brood parasitism, parasites lay their eggs in the nests of hosts, and many hosts in the wild respond by eliminating or abandoning foreign eggs in their clutch. However, a limitation upon the study of proximate, especially physiological and experience-dependent cognitive mechanisms of egg rejection, has been the lack of a suitable model system in captivity. Here, we tested whether laboratory-kept ringneck doves (Streptopelia risoria) respond to visually distinct egg types (through applying an ink treatment upon the doves’ own eggs) by rejecting them. We found that in two of two experiments, brown eggs were more often rejected, through predominantly egg burial, relative to control eggs but were done so only by a subset of dove pairs. These results are supportive of ringneck doves to become a suitable captive model for the study of foreign-egg rejection, and open the way for future research on the integrative (e.g., genetic, endocrine, ontogenetic, and cognitive) study of egg-rejection responses in a tractable research system. However, the ecological validity and applicability of this model system for the analysis of host–parasite interactions in the wild remain narrowly limited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Brood parasitism
  • Burial
  • Dove
  • Egg rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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