Song of male nightingale tells females how good a father he will be, according to research
Date: June 18, 2015
Source: BioMed Central
Summary: The song of the male nightingale tells females how good a father he will be, according to research. The study shows that better singers will feed their offspring more often, and that they advertise this to potential mates by singing in a more orderly way through repeating song sequences, and using more variable song, including many different 'buzz,' 'whistle' and 'trill' songs.
In around 80% of all bird species, males play a key role in raising their young. Male nightingales feed the female during incubation, provide food to chicks and defend the nest against predators. A male's parental skills are therefore likely to be a crucial factor for females when choosing a mate.
Female birds assess paternal qualities on the basis of traits, including plumage coloration and courtship behaviour. In nightingales, it is a male's elaborate nocturnal song prior to pair formation that is presumed to be key in advertising their skills as a father. While male birds are able to sing around 180 different song types, little has been understood on the exact song features that are important.