Saturday, January 17, 2015

Finch fashion

Researchers at the University of St Andrews in Scotland did an experiment to determine whether bird nests are camouflaged because they are made of materials that are part of the local environment, or whether they blend in because of deliberate actions on the part of the birds. As test subjects, they used zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), tiny songbirds native to Australia and popular as pets (IMAGE ABOVE). In this species, the male builds the nest, so one was placed in each of 21 enclosures wallpapered in pastel blue, pink, or yellow. Each bird was provided with 2 colors of paper strips – one that matched and one that didn't – and the results recorded on video. Biologist Ida Bailey comments, “Like us they don’t choose just any coloured material to build their homes. [T]hey avoid colours that would clash with their surroundings.”

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