As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

How a pair of Great Tits can lead to cheating, betrayal and divorce

IF YOU are fed up with television soap operas, then get a bird table – they offer a peep into a world of betrayal, cheating and divorce.
PUBLISHED: 00:01, Wed, Oct 14, 2015 | UPDATED: 10:40, Wed, Oct 14, 2015

Those cheeky great tits feasting on peanuts are far from just humble garden birds, but fascinating characters with lives as tempestuous as any character in Coronation Street or Albert Square. 

Oxford University scientists have discovered how the birds have a complex social whirl that influences whether they stay loyal to a partner or head to the avian equivalent of the divorce courts. 

After looking into the lives of 58 pairs of great tits, the researchers made a fascinating number of discoveries about the common garden birds famed for their bright blue and yellow plumages.

Birds, like humans, tend to be monogamous, preferring to remain “socially exclusive” with their breeding partner, but the scientists found male great tits can turn into the equivalent of a soap opera love rat. 

Males will separate if they feel a new female on the block offers more in life than the previous nesting season’s partner. 

For female great tits, however, the research team think they make partnership decisions on the quality of a male’s nesting territory rather than his personal attributes.

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