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Social learning influences feeding preferences in the zebra finch

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Article number64
Journal publication date2002
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Journal number5
Volume64
Number of pages6
Pages823-828
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

We tested sexually mature zebra finches to see whether social learning influenced their feeding preferences, in particular whether they followed the preference of a male or a female demonstrator, of a red-ringed or a green-ringed male, and of a familiar or an unfamiliar male. Each observer was exposed to two demonstrators feeding at different-coloured hoppers, and then tested with a choice of hoppers to see which of the two colours they preferred. Males showed no preference between male and female demonstrators when choosing from which colour of food hopper to feed, but females preferred to feed from the hopper colour the male demonstrator had used. Both males and females exposed to male demonstrators wearing red or green leg rings fed preferentially from the same colour hopper as the red-ringed demonstrators had used. Finally, male birds exposed to familiar and unfamiliar demonstrators, preferred the food hopper from which the familiar demonstrator had fed. We interpret the results as indicating differences between the demonstrators in the amount of attention they attracted from observers.