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 1 June 2016

Birds sense if partners are unfaithful and retaliate by providing less food

Henry Bodkin 1 JUNE 2016 • 12:01AM

Knowing what to do when you suspect your partner is having an affair is an age-old dilemma.

But new research suggests that sparrows have a simple, if brutal, solution: provide less food.

A new study by Imperial College London suggests male sparrows can sense when their female partners are being unfaithful and that they retaliate by gathering less food for the nest.

Although the species is supposed to be monogamous, sparrows have long been known for their lecherous tendencies.

Both Shakespeare and Chaucer linked the bird with promiscuous conduct, and even the ancient Greeks associated sparrows with Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

Published in the journal American Naturalist, the new study found that both male and female sparrows are prone to cheat, but for different reasons.

Males are unfaithful because they want to make sure they father as many chicks as they can, while females elope to mate with males of better genetic quality so they can produce stronger offspring.

A 12-year study of the sparrows on Lundy Island, in the Bristol Channel, found that male sparrows had no direct method of establishing whether all the chicks in a nest were theirs.

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