Avian Ultraviolet Vision And Frequency-Dependent Seed Preferences

It is well established that ultraviolet sensitivity plays an important role in the visually guided behaviour of birds. From a foraging perspective, evidence now exists that ultraviolet wavelengths are used by birds when foraging for insects, berries, seeds and mammals. Here, we present the results of two laboratory experiments that test the effect of removing […]

Is the ultraviolet waveband a special communication channel in avian mate choice?

There is growing evidence that ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths play an important role in avian mate choice. One of the first experiments to support this idea showed that female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) prefer UV-reflecting males to males whose ultraviolet reflection has been removed. The effect was very strong despite little or no UV reflection from […]

Pairs of zebra finches with similar ‘personalities’ make better parents

Although behavioural plasticity should be an advantage in a varying world, there is increasing evidence for widespread stable individual differences in the behaviour of animals: that is, [`]personality’. Here we provide evidence suggesting that sexual selection is an important factor in the evolution of personality in species with biparental care. We carried out a cross-fostering […]

Personality predicts social dominance in female zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, in a feeding context

Although personality has been defined as a suite of correlated behaviours, most studies of animal personality actually consider correlations between a few traits. We examined the repeatability and correlational structure of five potential personality traits (activity, neophobia, exploratory tendencies, risk-taking behaviour and obstinacy), in female zebra finches. In addition, we assessed to what extent personality […]

Parental care in wild and captive zebra finches: measuring food delivery to quantify parental effort

Although the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata, has been a very important model system for the study of intrafamilial conflict and parental strategies, a detailed understanding of the variation in parental effort that can occur both within and between pairs is lacking. In part this is because many different methods have been used by individual studies […]

Sex differences, social context and personality in zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata

Despite burgeoning interest in consistent individual differences in behaviour (animal [`]personality’), the influence of social interactions on the performance of different behavioural types is poorly understood. Similarly, the ecological and evolutionary consequences of personality differences in social contexts remain unexplored. Moreover, the possibility that the sexes differ in the degree to which they exhibit personality […]

Personality affects zebra finch feeding success in a producer-scrounger game

Recent evidence strongly suggests that natural selection can favour the evolution of consistent individual differences in behaviour ([`]personalities’). Indeed, personality shows heritable variation and has been linked to fitness in many species. However, the fitness effects of personality are highly variable within and between species. Furthermore, the nature of the causal influence of personality on […]

Yolk androgens and embryo sex: Maternal effects or confounding factors?

Maternal effects occur when offspring phenotype is affected by environmental factors experienced by the mother and, in egg-laying species, are often mediated via egg resources. There is currently great interest among behavioural ecologists in maternally allocated yolk androgens, especially their relationship with offspring sex and development. Such studies need embryonic tissue for sexing, however, requiring […]

Welfare and mate choice in zebra finches: effect of handling regime and presence of cover

Much attention has been focused, quite rightly, on the welfare of laboratory rodents and farm animals but certain other groups have been less well represented in welfare research. Small birds, for example, are often kept as pets and used in a wide variety of behavioural and physiological experiments where ‘best’ housing conditions are based on […]

Visual pigments and oil droplets from six classes of photoreceptor in the retinas of birds

Microspectrophotometric examination of the retinal photoreceptors of the budgerigar (shell parakeet), Melopsittacus undulatus (Psittaciformes) and the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata (Passeriformes), demonstrate the presence of four, spectrally distinct classes of single cone that contain visualpigments absorbing maximally at about 565, 507, 430–445 and 360–380 nm. The three longer-wave cone classes contain coloured oildroplets acting as […]