A bit further on my post, this article was in the local rag today:
'My little chickadee, your love melody is a travesty'
By Paul Recer, AP science writer
May 3, 2002
WASHINGTON -- The love life of a female chickadee could make a country music classic: "If your song don't pass muster, buster, I'm gone."
The lady chickadee has a cheatin' heart, quick to find another lover if her mate fails to win his daily song contests with rivals. In effect, she decides that if her mate is a loser, he won't be the only papa in her nest, say researchers at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Daniel Mennill, co-author of a study appearing today in the journal Science, said mates of high-ranking male black-capped chickadees are more likely to be unfaithful than are the mates of lower-ranked males.
"Females are accustomed to hearing their high-ranking mates dominate a song contest," said Mennill. "It is quite a shocking event to their ears to hear them lose a song contest."
When that happens, he said, the female will sneak out before dawn and meet with a rival male for a coupling. Then she flies back home as if nothing happened and continues to live with her partner.
"These extra matings are just short copulations -- about 30 seconds," said Mennill. The long-term partners "do remain mated, in a social sense."
The effect of these extra matings is that some chicks in the nest have been fathered by some other male chickadee, he said, and the betrayed male apparently never knows the difference.
Male chickadees are challenged virtually every day to a song contest with rival males. They use the contests to defend territory and nests.
"It is only the males that sing," said Mennill. "Every male chickadee has only one song -- two notes that sound like 'fee-bee.' "
One male sings and the other then sings back in a competition that might last for several minutes.
"If a male is very aggressive, he'll go through a set of routines where he will match the pitch and try to overlap the song of his opponent," said Mennill.
While this is going on, the female is listening, gauging who is winning. If her mate loses, she remembers.
Mennill proved the chickadee cheating by recording some of the bird songs and then engaging in a singing contest with a male bird.
The females of high-ranking males are most likely to cheat, he said. Rank among chickadees is established in the fall, when the birds gather in flocks that will last through the winter.
Somehow the birds establish an alpha, or primary, male and female, a beta, or second in rank, male and female, and so on.
Even though chickadee partners may stay together for years, the birds do have a system rather like divorce, said Mennill.
If, for instance, the alpha female dies or is grabbed by a hawk, then the alpha male becomes a nest wrecker.
On the Net: Science: www.sciencemag.org
It is similar to a lot of humans, now and in the past, it seems to me; and, as i referred to in the last post, scholars also.