Superb Fairy-wren promiscuity to blend of mixed color and song signals

Yellow Warbler courtesy of William Canosa

Yellow Warbler courtesy of William Canosa

By Rex Graham

The species is Australia's black, white and blue dabs of iridescence in the bush.

Fairy-wrens, like other birds, use "extra -pair "sexual liaisons as an important part of their reproductive strategy. Female fairy-wrens sing to stake territorial claims, and scientists are decoding how some of those musical claims are stronger than others.

Superb Fairy-wren signals

On Australia's Kangaroo Island, where severe 2007 fires scorched large areas of brush, territorial fairy-wren females undoubtedly feel pressure from claim-jumpers. The birds do not migrate. With less breeding habitat to go around on the island, females sing heartedly to signal fitness. Heard at a distance, the song itself minimizes close-range encounters with unwanted strangers. The females may also use song to woo mate, advertise their reproductive status or even function as a temporary romantic "come hither" invitation to a neighborhood male.

The promiscuity of Superb Fairy-wren females is unique among all songbirds. (Benjamint444)

On the island, the largest females signal their territorial claims with songs that are twice as long as those of smaller females. Hid Hid Hid Hid Hid Hid Hid Hid Hid Hidden meaning in ' p> The study was unique because of other studies of "sexually dichromic" species in which males are more colorful than females focus on the evils and ignore the females.

"This is the highest known frequency of extra-pair paternity of any bird," a team of Australian and British scientists reported in 1997 in the journal Molecular Ecology. Since that landmark study, many others using genetic-fingerprint analyses of chicks and eggs have measured various rates of "extra-pair paternity" in virtually all songbirds.

Promiscuity may arise as a way to mate with ills in better health than their own mates. Females may also use extra-pair paternity to add genetic diversity to their broods, or use it as a form of "reproductive insurance" in case her mate is infertile.

Of course, males stray, too. Some may wait until their mates are no longer fertile. A female's long hours at the nesting incubator may also provide an opportunity to father more chicks. Strategic neighborhood sex

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> Males may seek hook-ups outside the matrimonial unit as a way to have more offspring. On the contrary, a female may copulate with an older male neighbor as a way to improve the odds that her young will also live longer. Male Superb Fairy-wrens have a bright blue crown, ear-tufts and back iridescent eye-stripe and throat. (Cas Liber)

"Studies about how changes in the social context shape their decision-making can provide us with valuable information for a better understanding of such phenomena at both the individual and population level," a team of researchers from Switzerland and "Extra-pair 'double duplicity"

Researchers were surprised that the songs of female Superb Fairy-wrens, not their feathers, were linked to vigorous, more-attractive-to-males body condition.

"This is one of the first studies investigating multiple signals in a female songbird, suggesting that plumage features and song performance might underlie different selection processes, "said the authors of the study in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. "Our study revealed that song length is related to a trait reflecting quality and supports the idea of ​​song as a sexually selected trait in female passerines."