Cockburn Group - Evolutionary ecology

Cooperative breeding occurs where more than two individuals combine to rear a single brood of young. It is extraordinarily prevalent in the Australian avifauna, for both phylogenetic and ecological reasons, and we are conducting a number of studies to understand this prevalence. Current work focuses on superb fairy-wrens and woodswallows, though we have worked with kookaburras, bee-eaters, kingfishers, thornbills, choughs and parrots.

Group Leader

Honorary Professor

Selected publications

All publications

Under her wing: thirty years observing the secret lives of superb fairy wrens

Story | Wednesday 19 October 2022
Helen Osmond has watched the ins and outs of one superb fairy-wren population for three decades.

Fuzzy ducklings alert! But watch out for the parents

Story | Monday 19 September 2022
Spring isn't all it's quacked up to be. Pollen levels are high, magpies are terrorising cyclists and pedestrians alike, and protective duck parents are in attack mode.
Fairy wren

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change

Story | Tuesday 15 October 2019
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia’s most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

ARC Discovery projects and DECRA fellowships

Story | Monday 17 November 2014

Shy male tits stick together, take more risks

Story | Tuesday 10 September 2013
Shy birds stick together and gain courage through numbers, whereas bold birds go it alone according to new research.

Researchers reveal baby-killer birds

Story | Monday 24 October 2011

E&E Special Seminar: The structure of phenotypic variation: questions arising from analysis of repeatedly-expressed traits

Event | Thu 18 October 2018

Biological variation is organized hierarchically; it exists among taxa, among populations, among genotypes or individuals, and within genotypes or

Can’t see the ‘hood for the trees: the comparative method and phylogenetic and ecological variation in cooperative breeding in birds

Event | Tue 24 July 2018

In recent years a number of high profile publications have used phylogenetically explicit comparative methods to attempt to explain the distributio