Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bright birds make good mothers

Date:
August 13, 2013
Source:
University of York
Summary:
Female blue tits with brightly coloured crowns are better mothers than duller birds, according to a new study.

Female blue tits with brightly coloured crowns are better mothers than duller birds, according to a new study led by the University of York.

Unlike humans, birds can see ultra-violet (UV) light. While the crown of a blue tit looks just blue to us, to another bird it has the added dimension of appearing UV-reflectant.

The three-year study of blue tits, which also involved researchers from the University of California Davis, USA and the University of Glasgow, showed that mothers with more UV-reflectant crown feathers did not lay more eggs, but did fledge more offspring than duller females. These brightly coloured mothers also experienced relatively lower levels of stress hormones during arduous periods of chick rearing.

The results of the study are published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

Author Dr Kathryn Arnold, from the University of York's Environment Department, said: "Previous studies have shown that male blue tits prefer mates that exhibit highly UV-reflectant crown feathers. Our work shows that this is a wise choice. UV plumage can signal maternal quality in blue tits, so a male choosing a brightly coloured female will gain a good mother for his chicks and a less stressed partner."

Funded by the Royal Society and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the project was based in woodlands on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland and investigated the factors that affect breeding success in wild birds.

In blue tits (Cyanistes Caeruleus) both sexes exhibit bright UV-reflectant crown feathers. The birds are socially monogamous, with the female solely incubating the eggs and both parents feeding the chicks.

The researchers looked at the relative UV reflectance of the crown feathers of female blue tits and related this to indices of reproductive success -- lay date, clutch size, and number of chicks fledged -- as well as the birds' maternal state.

Dr Arnold said: "With up to 14 chicks to care for, blue tit mothers in our study were feeding their broods every couple of minutes. We showed that dowdy coloured females found this level of hard work twice as stressful compared with brighter mothers. Also, the mothers with more UV-reflectant crowns were highly successful, fledging up to eight more chicks than females with drabber feathers."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. L. J. Henderson, B. J. Heidinger, N. P. Evans, K. E. Arnold. Ultraviolet crown coloration in female blue tits predicts reproductive success and baseline corticosterone. Behavioral Ecology, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/beheco/art066

Cite This Page:

University of York. "Bright birds make good mothers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813101518.htm>.
University of York. (2013, August 13). Bright birds make good mothers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813101518.htm
University of York. "Bright birds make good mothers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813101518.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
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