The Loh Down On Science

Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes. Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh

How these males keep tabs on their mates will amuse you

by The Loh Down On Science

Hey he-men, are there advantages to feathering your own nest?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:

That’s what you’d do if you were a tit. That's a type of chickadee.  Male blue tits collect bright feathers as gifts for their mates.  It reflects resourcefulness, which is so sexy.  Turns out, the decorations also serve a more discrete purpose.  To monitor possible infidelity!

Meet Vicente García from the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid.  He added feathers to nests of wild birds to see what they’d do. And? Resident males freaked!  They tossed the foreign items overboard.  Stopped defending their territory.  Spent long hours away from home.  Many even flew the coop, abandoning mates and young'uns.  Why the crisis?

Each male apparently keeps tabs on his feathery offerings.  So if more turn up?  Mama’s got a birdie boy-toy.  This puts his own paternity in doubt.  And in the wild? Life’s too short to raise another man’s brood.

In sum?  A male blue tit may be many things.  But he’s no boob.  Sorry.

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