(Mirror Daily, United States) – Study shows birds choose love over food as scientists have discovered that mated pairs of wild birds will value their relationship more than their meals. Researchers at the Oxford University observed that mated pairs of birds choose to stay together rather than go forage for food separately.
The research was focused on observing wild bird’s ability to access sources of food in different situations and was conducted on the Wytham Woods site by Oxford University faculty members. The study involved using fully automated feeding stations and researchers controlled which birds could or could not access the food in each station. The access to each station was determined with the help of radio frequency identification tags connected to each of the feeding stations.
Once researchers set up the automated feeding stations to only allow access to certain birds in accordance with the study’s focuses and needs, the wild bird’s feeding habits were monitored and recorded.
As part of the experiment researchers programed the existing equipment so that previously mated pairs of birds would not be able to access the same feeding stations together. In other words, the male birds could only access the feeding stations which the female birds were unable to enter and vice versa.
The researchers observing the birds found that in the case of mated pairs of wild birds, the number of birds that were randomly selected not to be granted access to the same feeding station to which their partners did spent significantly more time in front of feeding facilities they could not enter than the birds that were allowed to feed together.
Considering that these birds chose to stay with their partner despite not being able to access food, researchers have concluded that proximity to their mates was more important for them that accessing food. This would indicate that an individual bird’s decisions may appear sub-optimal for a short time frame but could actually be oriented towards gaining the long term benefits of maintaining their vital relationships with their mates.
Mated pairs of birds were also observed to collaborate in order to manipulate the feeding system to their advantage and obtain food for the bird that could not access the feeding station. When their mate was in a feeding station which they could not access, birds utilized the 2 second period during which the feeders remained unlocked after recognizing an identification tag on another bird and scraped food from those feeders during that time.
This action was often times enabled by the bird’s partner which unlocked the feeders in order for their mate to feed, suggesting that the pairs were collaborating in order to feed together.
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