Biologists have recently observed female superb fairy wrens in their native habitat to learn more about why and when these songbirds sing since only male songbirds have been extensively studied. The research team ?which consisted of Sonia Kleindorfer and Christine Evans from Australia’s Flinders University and Katharina Mahr of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology in Austria ?monitored 72 different nesting sites in Australia and recorded the data for two years, Phys.org reports.
The researchers discovered that the birds are monogamous and typically only sang in response to their mate. According to Phys.org, the research team found that “males announced their presence when returning to the nest from foraging, the females replied with the same song, though it was muted. The back and forth sing-song between mated pairs was more prominent, the researchers noted, during nest building. To find out if the female returning the call put her eggs or chicks at risk, the team set up some artificial nests with quail eggs in them and played female songs from them, varying the number of calls per hour. Predators ate the eggs 40 percent of the time when the song rate was set at 20 songs per hour, but only did so 20 percent of the time when it was set at 6 calls per hour, showing that such calling did indeed put the offspring at risk.?lt;/span>
These results suggest that over time female wrens lost their desire to sing out due to predators.
The study was published in the journal Biology Letters. Click here to read it in its entirety.