Study of finches shows they form homosexual alliances

Aug 16, 2011 by Bob Yirka report
Captive Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata at Bodelwyddan Castle Aviary, Denbighshire, Wales. Image: Arpingstone/Wikipedia.

A new study by a team of researchers shows that for zebra finches, bonding trumps sex. Post-Doc fellow Julie Elie of the University of California and her team describe in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, how male finches, in the absence of females, chose to bond with other males and then to maintain such a relationship even when females are introduced afterwards.

To find out how strong the bonds are between , who normally form male/female life-long relationship bonds, the team raised a group of all to adulthood, at which point nearly half of them paired up and bonded, which the team describe as perching next to each other, singing, preening and nuzzling beaks.

Once the bonds were formed, the team then introduced females to the group. They found that of the eight male-male pairs that had bonded, five of them disregarded the females entirely, choosing instead to continue with their .

Elie, in an interview with the BBC noted that selecting a social partner, regardless of gender, could be a bigger priority. In other words, for zebra , it appears that it’s more important that a bird find a mate for cohabitation and socialization, then for reproduction. One interesting side note, though the authors mention the types of activities the bird engage in once they form bonds, no mention is made of whether the male birds attempt to mate with one another, a rather critical factor it would seem, in labeling the birds as homosexual, rather than as just life-long pals. Also not mentioned is if female-female bonds ever occur.

Elie adds that her findings demonstrate that pair-bonding, even in animals can, be more complex than just a male and a female who meet to reproduce. She also suggests that for zebra finches at least, finding a suitable partner is more than just fun and games, it is also likely a key to survival as the birds team up to defend food they have obtained or to fight off predators.

Elie also noted that there are many examples of same-sex parings in nature, such as with gulls and albatrosses where males pair up but still mate with a female. Also, she mentions the apparently gay chin-strap penguins that lived in New York’s Central Park Zoo last year, who went so far as to hatch an artificially fertilized egg together.

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User comments : 28

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Isaacsname
3.2 / 5 (5) Aug 16, 2011
You know how I know you're gay ?

Seriously though, bad title, should be corrected to read " metrosexual " not " homosexual ".
that_guy
3 / 5 (4) Aug 16, 2011
Politically Correct Title Correction:
"Finches Form LGBT alliance"
Temple
3.6 / 5 (5) Aug 16, 2011
"Homosexual" is a term which means 'same gender'.

"Homosexual alliances" implies nothing more than alliances between members of the same gender. It does not indicate that they are having intercourse with each other, nor does it indicate any other baggage that readers may bring with it (including political correctness, religiosity, prejudice, snickering, or what have you).
Isaacsname
3 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011

Did you read the article ?

" no mention is made of whether the male birds attempt to mate with one another, a rather critical factor it would seem, in labeling the birds as homosexual, rather than as just life-long pals "
kens_tech
2.5 / 5 (8) Aug 16, 2011
Ok, we get it homos.

Let's see... put up a completely misleading title about "homosexual" finches.

Then wait till people point out the obvious connotation to sexual proclivities.

Then jump in claiming innocence and pointing out self-righteously that "homosexual" merely means "same gender."

Mission accomplished.

Obviously the term "homosexual" is loaded. The people who put up that title knew exactly what they were doing, and it wasn't some sort of innocent explication about male finches paling around together.

It was meant to snare the unwary headline reader and give the false impression of male-male sexual activity.

Homosexuality is NOT the same thing as "same sex pairing," the salient feature being sexual activity, which the article makes clear didn't happen. Rather it is simply non-sexual pair bonding for mutual defense and resource gathering.

More dishonest active measures from the "we hate normal people" coalition.

-Ken
that_guy
3 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011
"Homosexual" is a term which means 'same gender'.

"Homosexual alliances" implies nothing more than alliances between members of the same gender. It does not indicate that they are having intercourse with each other, nor does it indicate any other baggage that readers may bring with it (including political correctness, religiosity, prejudice, snickering, or what have you).

It's because of your attitude that i'm going to be this mean to you. Homosexual means direction of sexual attention to the same gender. That's why the end of it is SEXUAL.

There is no direct compound word that I know of
that would have applied to your definition, but we would use terms like 'Homogenous' or 'single gender'.

Isaac is right. Without identifying that the finches try to mate, using the term 'homosexual' is in fact misleading or incorrect as to the scope of the conclusions and results of the research.
emsquared
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 16, 2011
More dishonest active measures from the "we hate normal people" coalition.

-Ken

You join physorg just to come out and be a bigot?

Way to keep it classy, Ken.

While we're talking about the "we hate normal people coalition" though, can you explain to me first what a normal person is, scientifically speaking of course please, and then exactly how someone's homosexual relationship affects you at all (y'know aside from accentuating the fact that you're terrified of, and therefore hostile towards, anything that is not "like you")?
SemiNerd
5 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2011
A large number of animals both bond with others of the same gender and mate with each other. Bonobo's are famous example from the primate kingdom, but some species of goats actually have more than 50% of their male members who will mate exclusively only with males. They are prized for their coats, and in some parts of British the economic losses are very high because of this.

I am puzzled why these are natural behaviors obviously derived from a proclivity at birth, and people are not given the same grace.

I guess I just don't understand haters and bigots.
Temple
1 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2011
It's because of your attitude that i'm going to be this mean to you. Homosexual means direction of sexual attention to the same gender. That's why the end of it is SEXUAL.


Your ignorance is staggering.

Sex is an often used synonym for gender. Certainly in scientific uses, it is most often used to mean gender, and "intercourse" is used instead of using "sex" when necessary.

Homosexual alliance means nothing more than same-gender (same-sex if you insist) alliance. If you or others take that term and assume it meant the study is reporting that the finches "are homosexual" or that there is any notion of "homosexuality" (a term which indeed is indicative of sexual preference or proclivity), then you're bringing something to the table that wasn't already present.

I find the fact that people are getting so worked up about the use of that word to be both sad and frightening.
HealingMindN
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011
What is this article trying to say? That any male friendship counts as a homosexual alliance? What if there are coed groups, all guy groups, and all girl groups hanging out at a swimming hole? Does this mean that the same gender groups are all homosexual alliances? What happens when they all jump in the water and become coed? Does the "homosexual alliance" label dissolve?
Isaacsname
4 / 5 (5) Aug 16, 2011
Right, that's why we refer to our male friends as our homosexual friends. >facepalm< It doesn't make a diff what the word really means in a scientific context, it matters how 99% of people interpet it, which is sexual. The title is trolling, plain and simple.
that_guy
3 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011
Simple retort: We only use the word 'homosexual' one way - look up the definition.

Long retort. the noun 'sex' refers to the biological gender of sexual organs. So, if they said 'homosex', you would be absolutely correct.

However, as i stated before, they used homosexual, which means single sexual proclivity - 'sexual' being the propensity to be attracted to and initiate intercourse with another individual.

In english linguistics, 'homosexual' is used to state that one does not have that sexual proclivity to the opposite sex.
Telekinetic
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 16, 2011
It's obvious, isn't it, since these finches like to sing Broadway show tunes.
Shakescene21
1 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2011
This is a trivial article with a deliberately misleading title.
poof
Aug 17, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Guy_Underbridge
not rated yet Aug 17, 2011
Some really defensive comments for an article about a few canaries.
KaiKonn
1 / 5 (7) Aug 17, 2011
Does anyone else see that this is yet another attempt by the media to normalize the "understood" viewpoint of the societal definition of homosexuality? Once again, the media pushes the Overton Window another notch.

WOW! Look! if finches do it, it must be completely acceptable for other animals to do it too!(including humans).

By the way.... Just because I don't agree with the homosexual way of life, doesn't make me a racist, bigot, religious zealot, homophobe, or any of the other labels you may try to force upon me to explain my distaste with the homosexual way of life. Simple fact of the matter is.. I prefer women, and think that's the preference of nature. Otherwise, we would all be hermaphrodites.
emsquared
5 / 5 (5) Aug 17, 2011
By the way.... Just because I don't agree with the homosexual way of life ... my distaste with the homosexual way of life.

It's obvious you are irrationally threatened by homosexuality, and that's exactly what a homophobe is. And it is your implying that homosexuality shouldn't be acceptable that makes you a bigot.
Simple fact of the matter is.. I prefer women, and think that's the preference of nature.

Sucks that not everyone is like you, huh? That's a sad, lonely reality you've crafted for yourself. There are lot's of phenotypes that are the "preference of nature" however there is an exception to every one that still arises naturally.

Not hard to look at your posting history, Kai, and see that you are an extreme social conservative and furthermore that you are extremely sensitive to being perceived as a bigot. People don't get defensive like you do to something like that unless they're trying (and failing) to convince themselves it's not true.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (15) Aug 17, 2011
So - this is more like Hercules and eolis as opposed to Xena and gabrielle (nudgenudge) and nothing like, say, me and callisto. Right?
http://www.youtub...ure=fvsr

(music by Queen)
WOW! Look! if finches do it, it must be completely acceptable for other animals to do it too!(including humans).
Ever watch chimps at the zoo? [shudder]
KaiKonn
1 / 5 (6) Aug 17, 2011
Lol, I guess you didn't bother to read the vast majority of other post in which someone claims to enjoy anything other than the extremely liberal point of view and the subsequent lambasting by people like you.

Yes, I am conservative, but I am also a scientist. Apparently, according to you and your kind (hard-left liberals), unless a person is a liberal they can't possibly be a "true" scientist. Science does not require that a person take on a liberal viewpoint, but it does require a hard look at "nature", and what it intended when it comes to human-kind.

I know the difference between the subjective influence of the media on an issue, and what nature intended for human-kind.

I'm not saying that homosexuality is "wrong". I'm just merely suggesting that nature did not intend on human-kind to engage in homosexuality as a practice.

@TheGhostofOtto1923
Have you seen the ghettos of Chicago? Not much difference. Racial inferences aside.
emsquared
5 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2011
your kind (hard-left liberals)

Isn't that cute, you think you know anything about me.
I know the difference between the subjective influence of the media on an issue, and what nature intended for human-kind.

By nature you mean your deism, of course. You can say you're a scientist but your beliefs (as opposed to conclusions) demonstrate you are not. Because last I checked nature is the aggregate of all things living and inanimate that by no stretch of science can be ascribed an intent. Anthropomorphizing nature as you have shows you to be the opposite of a true, objective scientist. An anthropocentric religionist.

Did nature intend on dwarfism or albinism or any number of genetic afflictions that vastly reduce or entirely eliminate an organisms ability to reproduce, yet still persist through our gene pool?

You cannot shield your bigotry with science. You're just another one of many hateful, negative people, who have no love for anyone, not even themselves.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (14) Aug 17, 2011
@TheGhostofOtto1923
Have you seen the ghettos of Chicago? Not much difference. Racial inferences aside.
What, you mean this?
http://www.youtub...6gY6qXxI

-Done by a HS student. Pretty good, dont you think?
I'm not saying that homosexuality is "wrong". I'm just merely suggesting that nature did not intend on human-kind to engage in homosexuality as a practice.
Consider for a moment, what nature might be capable of. Many species have natural ways of limiting population growth. Rabbite in crowded warrens for instance will absorb their fetuses. First-hatched baby birds will push unhatched eggs out of the nest. Infanticide is common.

Homosexuality may be one such phenomenon in our species. It may be an epigenetic way for mothers who discern themselves in a population which has grown to capacity, to 'neuter' a child in the womb.
cont
Javinator
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2011
I know the difference between the subjective influence of the media on an issue, and what nature intended for human-kind.

I'm not saying that homosexuality is "wrong". I'm just merely suggesting that nature did not intend on human-kind to engage in homosexuality as a practice.


Nature doesn't "intend" things. It's just nature. It just happens.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (15) Aug 17, 2011
Younger brothers of older males have a higher prevalence of homosexuality. Perhaps the mother was trying to limit mating competition for a son she was quite satisfied with? Biology can work in strange ways and human behavior is primarily biologically induced.

And it may be quite natural for others to find gaydom abhorrent, if for instance they perceive themselves as part of a tribe under threat and needing to grow in order to resist its enemies. The tribal dynamic is also biological in nature.

Sexual mores may have as much to do with limiting population growth and weeding defects out of the gene pool, as they do with maximizing growth. And as there are Proper Times for growth as well as limiting it, Tribal opinions regarding different sexual mores could vary greatly.

Alternate sexual behaviors not leading to procreation do seem to be more prevalent in cities and crowded pops, and people tend to call this decadence. But could it be a natural expression of the need to limit growth??
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (12) Aug 17, 2011
Just as natural would be those out in the hinterlands who perceive themselves as living in a niche which needed filling, and who would thus perceive urban moral decay as repulsive. But either would be entirely appropriate for their respective environments.
KaiKonn
1 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2011
Wind them up and let them go!

Intelligence untempered with wisdom or moral guidance will ultimately be the destruction of the fruits of our intelligence and ourselves.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 20, 2011
Impossible. It goes against the ideology of every TeaTard and is an affront to God and the Bible.

This research must be a fraud. Defund it immediately.
sherriffwoody
not rated yet Aug 21, 2011
I think the big bang theory is all wrong. Something happened, something that is now thought of as the big bang, but it wasn't the start of the universe as we know it. It was an episode within our universe.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2011
I can assure you that there is a big bang taking place in Las Vegas every hour of the day.

It happy town.