Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Male Bird Links Its Call To Deadly Enemy To Get Female Attention

Male splendid fairy-wrens in Australia prefer to make their calls after a predator makes its, and females pay more attention when the calls are linked. Cynthia Graber reports.
It’s one of the oldest moves in teen dating. Head to a scary movie. As soon as the scary music kick in, your date cuddles closer for comfort. Well, some birds may have the same idea. Splendid fairy-wrens are small, sexually promiscuous birds native to Australia. It turns out that males get the attention of potential mates by making their move after a predator announces its presence. The research was published in the journal Behavioral Ecology. [Emma Greig and Stephen Pruett-Jones, Danger may enhance communication: predator calls alert females to male displays]

That’s the sound of butcherbirds, which prey on splendid wrens. Every time male wrens hear that cry, they sing this in response [wren sound]. Researchers say the calls become layered atop one another, almost like a duet.

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