Female birds 'rate personality'
Published 25/08/2011 | 00:18
A study of birds "on the pull" has shown that in many cases personality really does trump looks.
Researchers found that adventurous female zebra finches tend to prefer the most out-going and confident males and seemed less impressed by a prospective partner's body size, condition or beak colour.
Scientists from the University of Exeter, Carleton University, Canada and the Royal Veterinary College, conducted "personality tests" on more than 150 birds, assessing males and females separately.
Each female was shown a pair of brothers exploring strange cages. One of the male birds was made to appear less exploratory than the other by restraining it in a box not visible to the female.
The female was then placed together with the brothers to see which one she appeared to be most attracted to.
The team found that "more exploratory" female birds were more likely to favour the most apparently outgoing and confident males, regardless of the bird's body size and condition or beak colour.
Less exploratory females on the other hand, did not show a preference for either male.
Dr Sasha Dall, the team leader from the University of Exeter, said: "This is strong evidence that females care about the apparent personality of their male independently of his appearance. We have the first evidence that it is important for partners to have compatible personalities in the mating game.
"This is something we would probably all agree is the case for humans but which has been overlooked for other species."
The findings were published in the journal Ethology.