Songs of Wallflower Finches

French researchers have reported that male birds who were unable to make friends, especially female friends, when they were young are less likely to find mates as adults.  They conducted their study on juvenile zebra finches, separating them into groups like kids at a high school mixer and observing their interactions.  Finches who were more social in these “mixers” copulated more frequently as adults.

Wallflower Finch

According to the research papers, this behavior may be similar to what scientists call “the loser effect” (I’m not making this up).  Apparently animals who lose a fight exhibit altered behavior and lower testosterone levels, making them less able to win future fights.  In a similar way, when male adolescent finches fail at interacting with female finches, they become less able to interact with female finches in the future.  Whether this is because the male finch loses his confidence or because the female finches somehow see him as a “loser” is currently unknown.

All I can say is I’m glad this isn’t true of humans.

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