Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Virtual mates' reveal role of romance in parrot calls

Date:
August 4, 2010
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Parrots are famed for their ability to mimic sounds and now researchers have used "virtual mates" to discover if female parrots judge male contact calls when deciding on a mate. The research challenges traditional understandings of the difference between birds "songs" and "calls."

This is one of the budgies from the study sitting on the perch and activating the "virtual mate."
Credit: Nancy Burley

Parrots are famed for their ability to mimic sounds and now researchers have used 'virtual mates' to discover if female parrots judge male contact calls when deciding on a mate. The research, published in Ethology, challenges traditional understandings of the difference between birds 'songs' and 'calls'.

Related Articles


Parrots are among the few species of bird to have developed the ability to quickly learn and mimic new sounds, but the evolutionary reason for this ability is little understood. The Californian based team used a species of budgerigar to discover if the ability to mimic new calls is linked to courtship and mate choice.

"We wanted to know whether a female budgie pays attention to a male's call when she first meets him and if she uses that information when deciding to mate," said senior author Dr Nancy Burley from the University of California. "If so the question is: are females attracted to males that produce calls similar to her own?"

The problem facing the team was that because budgerigars are quick vocal learners a male presented with a female will quickly adapt their call to imitate the female. For the study to be successful it was crucial that the female was able to hear and evaluate the male's call before the male had the chance to adapt his call.

To get around this problem the team developed 'virtual mates' by installing a series of monitors showing videos of male budgerigars dubbed with different calls. Each monitor had a pressure activated perch which would start the clip when the female landed on it.

In each experiment a female was presented with two monitors, each playing the same video but one had been dubbed with a call similar to her own. Budgerigars are intelligent and highly visual animals, yet the females in this experiment readily interacted with the video images as if they were live males.

The results revealed that female budgerigars are attracted to males which produce calls similar to their own call but increase further in similarity during courtship.

Traditionally biologists have focused their research on song birds and it is well established that songs are used by these species to attract mates and defend territory. Researchers have assumed that 'calls' differ to 'songs," however this research challenges that traditional assumption.

"In our study females listen to variations in calls and use that information as a basis for mate choice. This suggests that songs and calls may not be the different categories they have always been thought to be," concluded Burley. "While we don't yet fully understand 'why parrots parrot', we now know that the answer to this question parallels, in some respects, that of 'why birds sing'."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Moravec, G. Striedter, N. Burley. %u2019Virtual parrots%u2019 confirm mating preferences of female budgerigars. Ethology, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/J.1439-0310.2010.01809.X

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "'Virtual mates' reveal role of romance in parrot calls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803101914.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2010, August 4). 'Virtual mates' reveal role of romance in parrot calls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803101914.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "'Virtual mates' reveal role of romance in parrot calls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803101914.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins