Feeds

Drag queening for the birds say Spanish boffins

Priscilla, Queen of the Raptors

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Fetch out the sequins: Spanish biologists working in western France have explained a curious characteristic of a bird called the marsh harrier: some males “dress” as females in their permanent plumage to win chicks and territory.

The boffins, led by Audrey Sternalski of the Instituto de Investigacion en Recursos Cingeticos in Ciudad Real, say that the female-coloured male harriers are able to avoid copping the aggression that’s typical of males defending their territory.

The researchers set up decoy birds with three plumage styles: the grey of the male, the brown-and-white of the female, and the imperfect mimicked plumage of the “she-male”. They found that aggressive males focused on attacking decoys that were typically male, making less effort to try and drive the other two off their territory.

This, they argue in a paper published in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters, gives the males-in-female-plumage a chance to cozy up to females without being driven away by jealous males. It also means they can seek out new feeding territories with less chance of having to do battle with the incumbent.

They also found that the “drag queen” marsh harriers would take their act to extremes, even attacking the female decoys rather than the males.

AFP says only one other bird has a similar “transvestite” trick up its sleeve – the wader Philomachus pugnax. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.