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Top Story

In Panamanian birds’ courtship, there’s more at play than hormones

Juvenile male golden-collared manakins (Manacus vitellinus) who received extra testosterone were stimulated to clean up their display area before performing for females, according to new research. The research team’s results showed that tidiness during courtship is influenced, but not determined exclusively, by hormones. Adult male golden-collared manakins show off their bright-yellow throat and beard to attract the attention of females. During the courtship display, males perform complex acrobatic moves, leaping from one sapling to another, while making conspicuous "snapping" sounds by forcefully beating their wings together above their heads. To see how far adult males go to keep the display area clean, researchers added weights to the undersides of some of the leaves in the display area to make them heavier. Some males were so motivated to clean up that they flew while carrying leaves weighing as much as their own body.

Visit Website | Image credit: Ioana Chiver/Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute