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.

Related Articles


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 January 31, 2015 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 January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Nanoscale Sensor Could Help Wine Producers and Clinical Scientists

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 30, 2015) A nanosensor that mimics the oral effects and sensations of drinking wine has been developed by Danish and Portuguese researchers. Jim Drury saw it in operation. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Retired astronaut and television host, Leland Melvin, snuck his dogs into the NASA studio so they could be in his official photo. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us, the secret is out. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Rarest Cat on Planet Caught Attacking Monkeys on Camera

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) An African Golden Cat, the rarest large cat on the planet was recently caught on camera by scientists trying to study monkeys. The cat comes out of nowhere to attack those monkeys. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the rest. Video provided by Buzz60
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