Date: May 12, 2020
Source: University of Alberta
Early life experiences of zebra finches have a big effect on the construction of their first homes, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Science and the University of St Andrews' School of Biology.
The study shows that the presence of an adult bird as well as the types of materials available in early adolescence influence two key aspects of first-time nest building: material preference and construction speed.
"Interestingly, we noted that the preference for different materials, differentiated by colour in our study, is shaped by the juvenile experience of this material -- but only in the presence of an adult," said Lauren Guillette, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and project lead.
"This work is important because it debunks the long-held myth that birds build nests that look like the nest in which they hatched -- making nest-building a useful model system to experimentally test how animals learn about physical properties of the world."