Male hummingbirds well maintain their territories to attract mates

April 8th, 2010 - 2:56 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 8 (ANI): While observing the behaviour of hummingbirds, a group of researchers discovered that males defend and maintain a territory with a high density of nectar-producing flowers to attract females.

During the study, scientists observed the purple-throated carib, a hummingbird species native to the mountainous islands of the Eastern Caribbean.

They found that it is the quality of the male’s territory-rather than flashy plumage or elaborate courtship displays-that attracts the most females.

John Kress, a botanist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and Ethan Temeles, an ornithologist and biology professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts, have spent several years researching purple throated caribs (Eulampis jugularis) in the wild on the island of Dominica.

What they observed was unique among all bird species: successful male caribs maintained and defended territories with nectar supplies that were two to five times greater than their daily needs and also isolated part of their crop for the exclusive feeding rights of visiting females.

The key to this female-only feeding area was the presence of heliconia flowers.

“This is the first time such behaviour has ever been observed in a bird species. Not only is the male defending a huge territory from competing males, but he’s also defending a big chunk of it exclusively for females who he is trying to attract as potential mates. He is farming the nectar for these dual purposes,” said Kress. (ANI)

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