Nav: Home

Clever budgies make better mates

January 10, 2019

Male budgie birds who show smarts become more attractive in the eyes of female counterparts, a new study suggests. According to the results, direct observation of "clever behavior," such as the ability to solve problems to gain access to food, can affect mate preference in birds by making particularly adept males the preferred mates of females, a behavior which could underlie the evolution of cognitive performance in non-human animals. Since first proposed by Darwin, it's long been hypothesized that more intelligent individuals make preferable partners and that sexual selection for acuity has greatly contributed to the evolutionary development of cognitive abilities in animals. However, the fitness benefits of cognition, as well as the underlying selective mechanics, are not well understood and seldom studied outside of the human species. Previous studies on birds have inferred a preference for mates with greater cognitive abilities based on secondary behaviors correlated with intelligence, like song. However, such conclusions are limited and do not directly address the role of cognitive ability on mate choice, according to the authors. Jiani Chen and colleagues tested female preference for problem-solving abilities in males, using the budgerigar - a small Australian parrot, also known as the parakeet. Chen et al. examined whether female budgerigars altered their preference for males after observing a potential suitor's ability to open puzzle boxes and access the food within. In a series of trials, female birds were paired with two males from which she chose a preferred partner. Then, outside of the view of the female, the non-preferred male was trained to open boxes of food. According to the results, after the females watched the trained bird successfully open the boxes - and observed her non-trained chosen partner fail to do the same - they shifted their preference to the previously non-preferred, clever males. Georg Striedter and Nancy Burley discuss the study, as well as its limitations in a related Perspective.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Birds Articles:

Birds become immune to influenza
An influenza infection in birds gives a good protection against other subtypes of the virus, like a natural vaccination, according to a new study.
Even non-migratory birds use a magnetic compass
Not only migratory birds use a built-in magnetic compass to navigate correctly.
When birds of a feather poop together
Algal blooms deplete oxygen in lakes, produce toxins, and end up killing aquatic life in the lake.
Birds of a feather mob together
Dive bombing a much larger bird isn't just a courageous act by often smaller bird species to keep predators at bay.
Monitoring birds by drone
Forget delivering packages or taking aerial photographs -- drones can even count small birds!
The color of birds
New research provides insight into plumage evolution.
Migrating birds speed up in spring
It turns out being the early bird really does have its advantages.
Birds on top of the world, with nowhere to go
Climate change could make much of the Arctic unsuitable for millions of migratory birds that travel north to breed each year, according to a new international study published today in Global Change Biology.
City birds again prove to be angrier than rural birds
The researchers' observations shed light on the effects of human population expansion on wildlife.
Teaching drones about the birds and the bees
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) of the future will be able to visually coordinate their flight and navigation just like birds and flying insects do, without needing human input, radar or even GPS satellite navigation.

Related Birds Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...