Dear Dr Richard Dawlins
It was quite a coincidence that, having recently finished reading The Selfish Gene a few days ago, I should watch an Attenborough doccy on the habits of a parrot in the forests of South America. The female leads the attendant males into believing that they are all the father of the clutch of chicks in the nest, thereby ensuring a (very) steady conveyor belt supply of food.
Am I right in thinking that in the case of certain birds who do not have doting fathers, the clutch sizes are small, but large when assistance is received from the father ?
So, in the situation above, it would seem that the female could lay a huge number of eggs with the 'knowledge' that they will be well looked after.
I wonder when/if the cycle will swing the other way with fathers seeing through the lie.
I have now started on the Extended Phenotype.