Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Feathered friends are far from bird-brained when building nests

Date:
September 26, 2011
Source:
University of Edinburgh
Summary:
Nest-building is not just instinctive but is a skill that birds learn from experience, research suggests. Scientists filmed male Southern Masked Weaver birds in Botswana as they built multiple nests out of grass during a breeding season. Their findings contrast with the commonly-held assumption among scientists that nest-building is an innate ability.

Nest-building is not just instinctive but is a skill that birds learn from experience, research suggests.

Scientists filmed male Southern Masked Weaver birds in Botswana as they built multiple nests out of grass during a breeding season. Their findings contrast with the commonly-held assumption among scientists that nest-building is an innate ability.

The researchers found that individual birds varied their technique from one nest to the next. They also saw that some birds build their nests from left to right, and others from right to left.

Also, as the birds gained more experience in building nests, they dropped blades of grass less often, implying that the art of nest building requires learning.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews and Glasgow together with scientists from Botswana say their findings may help to explain how birds approach nest-building and whether they have the mental capacity to learn, or whether their skills are developed through repetition.

Researchers chose the colourful African bird because they build complex nests, which is potentially a sign of intelligence. More importantly, Weaver birds build many nests -- often dozens in a season, allowing the team to monitor differences in nests built by the same bird.

Dr Patrick Walsh of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who took part in the study, said: "If birds built their nests according to a genetic template, you would expect all birds to build their nests the same way each time. However this was not the case. Southern Masked Weaver birds displayed strong variations in their approach, revealing a clear role for experience. Even for birds, practice makes perfect."

The research was published in the journal Behavioural Processes and was funded by the Leverhume Trust.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Patrick T. Walsh, Mike Hansell, Wendy D. Borello, Susan D. Healy. Individuality in nest building: Do Southern Masked weaver (Ploceus velatus) males vary in their nest-building behaviour? Behavioural Processes, 2011; 88 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2011.06.011

Cite This Page:

University of Edinburgh. "Feathered friends are far from bird-brained when building nests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110925192704.htm>.
University of Edinburgh. (2011, September 26). Feathered friends are far from bird-brained when building nests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110925192704.htm
University of Edinburgh. "Feathered friends are far from bird-brained when building nests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110925192704.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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