Meaning of altricial in English:


Pronunciation /alˈtrɪʃl/


  • 1Zoology
    (of a young bird or other animal) hatched or born helpless and requiring significant parental care.

    Often contrasted with precocial
    Compare with nidicolous

    ‘The altricial chicks are fed primarily insects, beetle larvae, grasshoppers, spiders and small lizards.’
    • ‘After hatching, the altricial nestlings are brooded for 1 to 2 weeks depending on the weather.’
    • ‘Their altricial cubs are born in mid-winter, with their eyes closed, and weighing only about 0.6 kg.’
    • ‘The altricial young are fed semi-digested fish by both parents.’
    • ‘In addition, the amount of food altricial nestlings receive from their parents varies depending on how much food is in the environment.’
    1. 1.1(of a particular species) having altricial young.
      ‘In altricial birds the chicks depend entirely on their parents for food and protection.’
      • ‘In altricial species, the parents of hungry nestlings may be helped in feeding and guarding their young by other adult birds who have not bred that year.’
      • ‘Moreover, chicks of precocial species generally require less parental care than those of altricial species.’
      • ‘In altricial bird species, parents need to provide their growing nestlings with food to prevent starvation, ensure proper development, and minimize any negative effects of a poor start in life.’
      • ‘The brown pelican produces a relatively large chick at a relatively high cost compared to other, smaller altricial species.’


Late 19th century from Latin altrix, altric-, feminine of altor ‘nourisher’, from alere ‘nourish’.