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Best Male Nightingale Vocalists Make Best Fathers

时间: 2015年07月16日 | 作者: | 来源: 科学美国人

 

To our knowledge, there’s no correlation between a man’s singing ability and his care and attentiveness as a father. But any Pavarotti among the nightingales will serenade his mate while she sits on her eggs. And after they hatch he will visit the nest about 16 times each hour to feed their offspring. Because, among nightingales at least, the best singers also make the best fathers. So finds a study in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. [Conny Bartsch, Michael Weiss and Silke Kipper, Multiple song features are related to paternal effort in common nightingales]

 

Some 80 percent of birds practice biparental care, meaning both the male and female rear their offspring together. So it’s crucial for a female bird to pick as a mate the most promising father—both genetically and behaviorally. Female birds look for signs of fitness that range from the flamboyant plumage of the peacock to the bizarre dances of birds of paradise.

 

And for nightingales, it’s the most elaborate song that apparently wins the day. The average male has some 180 tunes in his repertoire.  These avian Sinatras vocalize highly variable song types including buzzes, whistles and trills. And such virtuoso singing seems to signal the female that this is a guy she can count on. That is, when it’s time to help raise the kids, he’s not a flight risk.

 

—Sabrina Imbler

 

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

 

[Nightingale audio courtesy of Conny Bartsch.]