Ultraviolet colour perception in European starlings and Japanese quail

Whereas humans have three types of cone photoreceptor, birds have four types of single cones and, unlike humans, are sensitive to ultraviolet light (UV, 320-400 nm). Most birds are thought to have either a violet-sensitive single cone that has some sensitivity to UV wavelengths (for example, many non-passerine species) or a single cone that has […]

Water bathing alters the speed-accuracy trade-off of escape flights in European starlings

Birds of most species regularly bathe in water, but the function of this behaviour is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that water bathing is important in feather maintenance, and hence should enhance flight performance. We manipulated European starlings’, Sturnus vulgaris, access to bathing water in a 2 × 2 design: birds were housed in aviaries either with […]

The effects of cage volume and cage shape on the condition and behaviour of captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)

Cage size is widely recognised as an important determinant of captive animal welfare, but in contrast, cage shape has received far less attention. Husbandry recommendations for flying birds state that cages should be long in shape because this allows greater potential for flight. However, so far no studies have investigated the impact of cage shape […]

Rapid Behavioural Adjustments to Unfavourable Light Conditions in European Starlings (Sturnus Vulgaris)

Although it is known that many birds possess ultraviolet (UV)-sensitive vision, most commercially housed poultry species, as well as species held in zoos, laboratories, or bred for show, are maintained under lighting that is deficient in UV wavelengths compared with normal daylight. UV-sensitive vision has been shown to be important in both foraging and mate-choice […]

Testosterone increases repertoire size in an open-ended learner: An experimental study using adult male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)

Song in songbirds is a learned secondary sexual behavior, first acquired during a sensitive phase of juvenile development, which is affected by hormones such as testosterone (T). While the latter has received much attention, the potential involvement of T in the adult repertoire changes observed in a number of species is much less understood. Yet, […]

Effects of developmental history on the behavioural responses of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) to laboratory husbandry

This study examined the impact of rearing environment on the behavioural responses of wild European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) to standard laboratory husbandry procedures. We compared birds that had been caught from the wild as independent juveniles with birds taken from the nest and hand-reared in the laboratory from approximately ten days post-hatch. Although hand-rearing can […]

Hand rearing affects emotional responses but not basic cognitive performance in European starlings

Hand rearing is a common procedure in behavioural research on birds. While likely to produce tamer experimental animals, there is a risk that it could induce pathological changes in brain and behaviour similar to those seen in mammals that have experienced maternal separation. We explored the effects of hand rearing on the cognitive and behavioural […]

Early life adversity increases foraging and information gathering in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris

Animals can insure themselves against the risk of starvation associated with unpredictable food availability by storing energy reserves or gathering information about alternative food sources. The former strategy carries costs in terms of mass-dependent predation risk, while the latter trades off against foraging for food; both trade-offs may be influenced by an individual’s developmental history. […]