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 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.

Copyright 2006 by Space Daily, Distributed United Press International

Explore further: Bulletproof nuclei? Stem cells exhibit unusual absorption property

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Risky ripples: Frog's love song may summon kiss of death

Jan 23, 2014

Male túngara frogs call from puddles to attract females. The production of the call incidentally creates ripples that spread across the water. Researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in ...

Male spectacled warblers are innovative singers

Jan 14, 2014

The several variables in the song of every male spectacled warbler could play a crucial role in the mating, defending territory and recognition between individuals of this species. Studying their acoustic ...

Artificial lighting and noise alter biorhythms of birds

Sep 24, 2013

(Phys.org) —Noise from traffic and artificial night lighting cause birds in the city centre to become active up to five hours earlier in the morning than birds in more natural areas. These were the findings ...

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.