Feeds

Drag queening for the birds say Spanish boffins

Priscilla, Queen of the Raptors

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
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.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.