Female birds boost up their eggs when hearing sexy song

Jun 08, 2006

In a new study published in the latest issue of Ethology researchers show that female songbirds can alter the size of eggs and possibly the sex of their chicks according to how they perceive their mate’s quality.

The researchers played back attractive (“sexy”) songs and less attractive control songs of male canaries to female domesticated canaries. When the females started egg-laying they varied the size of their eggs in the nest according to the attractiveness of the male’s song. That is, the more attractive the song, the larger the eggs. However it is remarkable that while larger eggs were more likely to contain male offspring in natural environments, in the experiment there was no difference in brood sex ratio between the different songs played to the females, which suggests different levels of female control.

Male birdsong has long been known to attract females and influence mate choice decisions and even induce an alteration in the offspring’s sex ratio. This study by Leitner et al. now shows experimentally that hearing attractive song also has a selective impact on female physiology.

45 female domesticated canaries participated in this study that was a collaboration of Royal Holloway, University of London and the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen and Radolfzell in Germany.

The birds were kept in large aviaries where their daily behaviour was monitored in a colony before they were tested in the song experiments. The females showed a remarkable consistency in their behavioural and reproductive performance and the song stimuli alone were sufficient to elicit a profound physiological change. This study further highlights the importance of behavioural stimuli for reproductive physiology. Bathroom Pavarottis beware.

Source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Explore further: Endangered hammerhead shark found migrating into unprotected waters

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Female Birds Boost Up Their Eggs When Hearing Sexy Song

Jul 17, 2006

In a new study published in the latest issue of Ethology researchers show that female songbirds can alter the size of eggs and possibly the sex of their chicks according to how they perceive their mate's quality. The resear ...

Desire to reproduce drives active nightlife of birds

Jan 22, 2014

For a non-nocturnal bird, the yellow-breasted chat spends a significant amount of time visiting other birds' territories during the night. A University of Illinois researcher who was studying birds' movement ...

More protection for the big ones

Jan 03, 2014

Many popular measures to combat overfishing help conserve mostly small juvenile fish. The results from a set of international studies may now revolutionise fishing regulations.

Eastern US to be overrun by billions of cicadas (Update)

May 06, 2013

Any day now, billions of cicadas with bulging red eyes will crawl out of the earth after 17 years underground and overrun the East Coast. The insects will arrive in such numbers that people in the southern ...

Recommended for you

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

4 hours ago

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

Amazonian shrimps: An underwater world still unknown

5 hours ago

A study reveals how little we know about the Amazonian diversity. Aiming to resolve a scientific debate about the validity of two species of freshwater shrimp described in the first half of the last century, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.