Birds behave like football fans after contest is over

September 3rd, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Sept 3 (ANI): Its not just humans who commiserate with each other when their team loses a contest - birds also draw comfort from mates if they are beaten, according to a new research.

Bristol University researchers examining the behaviour of the South African Green Woodhoopoe found that rival groups of birds engage in chanting contests like football fans - and even show fan-like behaviour when the conflict is over.

They sing together in exactly the same way as football crowds chant to taunt the opposition.

And they console and fuss over each other in the same way that fans commiserate and drown their sorrows in the pub after a defeat.

Dr Andy Radford of Bristol University found the birds preened each other after losing a battle with local opposition, probably as encouragement to pick themselves up and fight another day.

The green woodhoopoe lives in tightly knit groups of up to a dozen individuals with a rigid dominance hierarchy under which only one pair is allowed to breed, and the remaining birds are helpers.

Rival woodhoopoe groups frequently clash and engage in intense calling contests, which can last for anything up to 45 minutes.

They do not end in violence, but they do leave one group clearly victorious over the other - as the winning group will invade the territory of the losers and forage for food within it.

“It’’s a fair comparison with football fans. The vocal displays are just as raucous, and if the contest really reaches a feverish pitch, it’’s not unknown for a member of a group to pluck a flower or a piece of lichen, almost as if it were waving a scarf or a flag,” The Independent quoted Dr Radford, as saying.

Dr Radfords study concerns the aftermath of the contest and invites comparison with post-match commiseration by fans.

It focuses on rates of allopreening - the preening of one bird by another, a practice thought to reduce stress and strengthen social bonds.

The study is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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