Sexy birds are better at escaping predator attacks. ~

16 de abril de 2014

Sexy birds are better at escaping predator attacks.

male red house finch
Steve McFinch, The Great Escaper. By nigel from vancouver, Canada (IMG_4268-002) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Female birds are often attracted to bright, colorful males. 

Why is that? 

Apart from looking nicer, colorful males are signaling good qualities through their plumage. Research has shown, for example, that these colorful males are better at finding food that males of the same species with duller colors

For a female bird, a capable partner with potential to find good quality food for the chicks would be a good choice. Bright colors are also a sign of good health, and we could expect that a healthy, vigorous male would have better chances when trying to escape from a predator attack.

If that's the case, it would help to explain why female birds of many species have evolved attraction to more colorful males.

So, are colorful males better at escaping from predators?

To test this prediction, we measured the escape ability of male House finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) from a "human predator", that tried to capture them with a net in a large aviary. 

We related the escape ability of each individual to its breast coloration and found that birds with redder feathers managed to avoid our net better than duller individuals. 

So, yes! Colorful males are better at escaping predator attacks.

When a female is choosing a colorful male as a sexual partner, she is not only choosing beautiful feathers, but she is also selecting a male whose better flight performance will potentially allow him to provide more food to their chicks, and to better defend their nest from predators and territorial intrusions.
Read the whole story here and here.

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