Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chick magnet? Nest diet has big impact on attractiveness of hihi birds

Date:
February 12, 2013
Source:
Zoological Society of London
Summary:
Chicks that stock up on their five-a-day outshine their love rivals in later life, a new study shows. The research reveals that male hihi birds develop more colourful and attractive breeding feathers if they receive a nest diet rich in carotenoids -- natural pigments found mainly in fruit and vegetables.

Feeding chick
Credit: Reuben Price

Chicks that stock up on their five-a-day outshine their love rivals in later life, a new study shows.

Related Articles


Published February 12 by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and University of Cambridge, the study reveals that male hihi birds develop more colourful and attractive breeding feathers if they receive a nest diet rich in carotenoids -- natural pigments found mainly in fruit and vegetables.

Scientists looked at the effects of newborn nutrition on male plumage in the rare New Zealand hihi (Notiomystis concta) over the course of a year. The paper was published in Proceedings of The Royal Society B.

ZSL and University of Cambridge PhD student Leila Walker says: "We first hand-fed baby hihi birds either a carotenoid supplement -- natural pigments used to colour yellow, orange and red -- or a more complete dietary supplement. Then we looked at the effect this had on male breeding feather colour once those chicks had grown and moulted into their adult plumage."

All nestlings initially develop female-like plumage and fledge at around one month old. Youngsters then moult their body feathers at about four months old, during which time the males obtain their breeding features. Colourful plumage is an important factor in a bird's breeding success as it demonstrates the strong health of a bird to females.

ZSL Research Fellow Dr. John Ewen says: "We saw that nestlings receiving more carotenoids were brighter as adults. This was a combined result of the carotenoid-rich dietary supplement they received, and the carotenoids they obtained as part of a natural diet fed to them by their parents."

Research on hihi has highlighted how sensitive an individual's life is to experiences faced as a nestling. Scientists are now gaining an idea of the information content of different plumage ornaments used in breeding. The next steps will be to manipulate these signals in adult birds to further test the effects on mating success.

Almost all wild hihi populations require conservation support in terms of food supplementation. ZSL will continue to work on narrowing down on a diet that produces the most, and best quality, offspring to help rebuild high numbers of this most brightly coloured of New Zealand birds.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Zoological Society of London. "Chick magnet? Nest diet has big impact on attractiveness of hihi birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212210118.htm>.
Zoological Society of London. (2013, February 12). Chick magnet? Nest diet has big impact on attractiveness of hihi birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212210118.htm
Zoological Society of London. "Chick magnet? Nest diet has big impact on attractiveness of hihi birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212210118.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. 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