STATES CHRONICLE – Even though humans seem to be having trouble keeping their promise of sticking together “till death do us part,” there are plenty of examples in the world of birds, where many wild birds prove love trumps food.
A recent study conducted by researchers from Oxford University Department of Zoology found evidence that some wild birds choose love over food. These bird couples will go as far as sacrifice their own need to find food in order to stick with their loved ones during the long winter months.
Researchers think the decision to keep close to their partner instead of seeking for food during the often-deadly winter months is a good example of how birds are able to ignore the short-term benefit of being fed – even if it appears to be sub-optimal – in favor of gaining benefits over the long term that come from maintaining important relationships.
A bird species called great tits (don’t Google that, though) has been the focus of the study, but scientists have reason to believe these findings could apply to many other species. For example, geese, swans, geese, cranes, and eagles are usually monogamous.
Lovebirds – the smaller parrot species – are living up to their names, mating for life and spending a lot of time affectionately doting one on another. However, one of the experiments done on the great tit couples was enough to prove just how loyal they really are.
Researchers placed ID tags on the birds in order to set up an automated feeding station. They were arranged so that the station could decide which birds were allowed access to the food, and which weren’t based on the particular radio frequency ID tag.
The feeding stations did not allow the mated birds to feed from the same stations as their respective mate, which meant that the male and the female had to be separated in order to both have access to food. However, the researchers found that more times than not, the birds opted to stay with their mates even if that meant missing a meal.
Even more surprising, the Oxford team found that the birds employed cooperative strategy in order to stay together by figuring out the feeders were unlocked for just two seconds after their ID tag was detected. The two birds stuck together in order to work out a system that would allow both of them to feed in the two-second window.
Image Source: Bird Forum