Patterns of painting in satin bowerbirds Ptilonorhynchus violaceus and males' responses to changes in their paint

Bravery, B. D., Nicholls, J. A. and Goldizen, A. W. (2006) Patterns of painting in satin bowerbirds Ptilonorhynchus violaceus and males' responses to changes in their paint. Journal of Avian Biology, 37 1: 77-83. doi:10.1111/j.2005.0908-8857.03549.x


Author Bravery, B. D.
Nicholls, J. A.
Goldizen, A. W.
Title Patterns of painting in satin bowerbirds Ptilonorhynchus violaceus and males' responses to changes in their paint
Journal name Journal of Avian Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0908-8857
Publication date 2006-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.2005.0908-8857.03549.x
Volume 37
Issue 1
Start page 77
End page 83
Total pages 7
Place of publication Oxford
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject C1
270707 Sociobiology and Behavioural Ecology
780105 Biological sciences
Abstract Satin bowerbirds Ptilonorhynchus violaceus have an elaborate multi-component sexual display, some components of which have been extensively studied. We describe a relatively unstudied component of this display, bower painting, and birds' responses to manipulations of their paint. Males of this species focus their display around a stick bower constructed on the forest floor which they decorate with a variety of objects and paint. Painting involves a male masticating plant material and wiping the plant-saliva mixture onto the inside walls of the bower; during courtship visits to bowers, females nibble at this paint. We found that 93% of 53 males painted their bowers at our study site and the time males spent painting their bowers accounted for 24% of their time at the bower. We experimentally removed and added paint to bowers to test whether males respond to these changes in their paint. Males gave more advertisement calls and spent less time manipulating sticks at the bower when we added fresh wet paint to their bowers compared to older dried paint or a control treatment. They did not respond to the removal of paint from their bowers, perhaps because it was primarily older dried paint that was removed. We also found that males painted more frequently when there was measurable wind in their bowers, which could have degraded the quality of the signal. Our findings indicate that fresh wet paint is more important to males than older dried paint and, together with previous work at this site, suggest that paint may act as a signal to females. Given that females nibble bower sticks during courtship, we suggest that bower paint may function as a chemical sexual signal rather than a visual signal.
Keyword Ornithology
Chemical Cues
Courtship
Predators
Quality
Odors
Q-Index Code C1

 
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 19:02:57 EST