Edinburgh Research Explorer

Physical cognition: birds learn the structural efficacy of nest material

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Open Access permissions

Open

Documents

  • Download as Adobe PDF

    Rights statement: © 2014 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

    Final published version, 501 KB, PDF document

    Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY)

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/281/1784/20133225
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20133225
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Volume281
Issue number1784
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2014

Abstract

It is generally assumed that birds' choice of structurally suitable materials for nest building is genetically predetermined. Here, we tested that assumption by investigating whether experience affected male zebra finches' (Taeniopygia guttata) choice of nest material. After a short period of building with relatively flexible string, birds preferred to build with stiffer string while those that had experienced a stiffer string were indifferent to string type. After building a complete nest with either string type, however, all birds increased their preference for stiff string. The stiffer string appeared to be the more effective building material as birds required fewer pieces of stiffer than flexible string to build a roofed nest. For birds that raised chicks successfully, there was no association between the material they used to build their nest and the type they subsequently preferred. Birds' material preference reflected neither the preference of their father nor of their siblings but juvenile experience of either string type increased their preference for stiffer string. Our results represent two important advances: (i) birds choose nest material based on the structural properties of the material; (ii) nest material preference is not entirely genetically predetermined as both the type and amount of experience influences birds' choices.

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 15131456