If Cupid wanted to make songbirds fall in love, he’d better aim at their brains. That’s because songbirds, which form lifelong mating pairs, have brain systems perfectly tuned to fit together.
Take finches. A male learns his father’s song, and performs it to attract a mate. He sings: “Chirp, chirp – my brain is healthy, and my body is strong. That’s something you’re into, right?”
A female finch also learns her father’s song, but she doesn’t perform. She’s the critic. She analyses every detail of a potential mate’s song, and decides if she wants to keep him around.
Researchers looking into finch brains say that each sex uses what’s called its sound control system to convert sound waves into social messages and then use them to find mates. While these systems are well-developed and finely tuned in both sexes of songbirds, the wiring is different.