nidifugous was our Word of the Day on 03/20/2016. Hear the podcast!
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nidifugous, For The Birds
Nidifugous hatched from the Latin words nidus, meaning "nest," and fugere, meaning "to flee." Its contrasting word nidicolous, meaning "reared for a time in a nest," combines nidus with the English combining form -colous ("living or growing in or on"). Another relevant term is precocial. A precocial bird is capable of a high degree of independent activity as soon as it emerges from the egg. While all nidifugous birds are also necessarily precocial, some nidicolous birds are also precocial—that is, they are capable of leaving the nest soon after hatching, but instead they stick around. Other nidicolous birds are altricial, which is to say they are hatched in a very immature and helpless condition and require care for some time.
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