Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Monogamous birds read partner's food desires

Date:
February 4, 2013
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
New research shows that male Eurasian Jays in committed relationships are able to share food with their female partner according to her current desire.

Eurasian Jay mating pair engaged in food-sharing.
Credit: Ljerka Ostojic

New research shows that male Eurasian Jays in committed relationships are able to share food with their female partner according to her current desire.

The behaviour suggests the potential for 'state-attribution' in these birds -- the ability to recognise and understand the internal life and psychological states of others.

The research was carried out in Professor Nicola Clayton's Comparative Cognition lab at Cambridge University's Department of Psychology, and is published February 4 in the journal PNAS.

Researchers tested mated jays and separated males from females. The females were fed one particular larvae, either wax moth or mealworm -- a treat for the birds, like chocolates -- allowing the males to observe from an adjacent compartment through a transparent window.

Once the pairs were reintroduced and the option of both larvae was presented, the males would choose to feed their partner the other type of larvae, to which she hadn't previously had access -- a change in diet welcomed by the female.

Through different tests using variations on food and visual access to the females during feeding, the researchers show that the males needed to actually see the females eating enough of and become sated by one type of larvae -- called 'specific satiety' -- to know to offer them the other type once reunited.

This demonstrates that the males' sharing pattern was not a response to their partner's behaviour indicating her preference but a response to the change in her internal state.

"Our results raise the possibility that these birds may be capable of ascribing desire to their mates -- acknowledging an 'internal life' in others like that of their own," said Ljerka Ostojic, who led the research.

"Ascribing internal states to other individuals requires the basic understanding that others are distinct from the self and others' internal states are independent from, and differ from, one's own.

When there was no opportunity to feed the female, males chose between the two foods according to their own desires. Only when they could share with the female did they disengage from their own desires and select food the female wanted.

The researchers believe that this ability to respond to another's internal state in a cooperative situation might be important for species living in long-term relationships. Food-sharing is an important courtship behaviour for the Jays -- so the ability to determine which food is currently desired by his partner might increase the male's value as a mate.

"A comparison might be a man giving his wife chocolates. The giving and receiving of chocolates is an important 'pair-bonding' ritual -- but, a man that makes sure he gives his wife the chocolates she currently really wants will improve his bond with her much more effectively -- getting in the good books, and proving himself a better life partner."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons license. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ljerka Ostojić, Rachael C. Shaw, Lucy G. Cheke, and Nicola S. Clayton. Evidence suggesting that desire-state attribution may govern food sharing in Eurasian jays. PNAS, February 4, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1209926110

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Monogamous birds read partner's food desires." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204153905.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2013, February 4). Monogamous birds read partner's food desires. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204153905.htm
University of Cambridge. "Monogamous birds read partner's food desires." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130204153905.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
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