Close Window
Fading Female Beauty Causes Male Birds to Wander June 29, 2012
Blue Tit
Female blue tits with poor personal hygiene risk losing their blue lustre under a coating of dust, pollution or parasites.
At least one species of bird has been found to lose interest in its female partner when her beauty starts to fade, staying away longer and neglecting their offspring.

Both male and female blue tits have feathers on the top of their heads which reflect ultraviolet light.

To detect any changes in chick-rearing behavior based on the female blue tits’ appearance, a team from the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology in Vienna covered the females' crown feathers with an oily compound that blocks UV light.

They waited until after the birds’ chicks had hatched before starting the experiment.

While the chemicals did not alter how the females behaved, researchers found the males made fewer hunting trips to feed their broods.

But the males were found to exert the same amount of effort to protect their nests and defend their chicks as those whose females did not have the UV-blocking oil.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology, concludes that female blue tits must invest a lot of time preening to remain attractive to their mates.

Photo: Marko K - Flickr