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Friday, June 22, 2012

Finches' personalities 'shown by head colour'

By Michelle Warwicker
BBC Nature

Gouldian finches have different personalities depending on the colour of their heads, researchers have found.

Scientists from Liverpool John Moores University and The Royal Veterinary College investigated the "highly sociable" Australian birds.

The team set the finches a series of behavioural tests to understand the purpose of their bright appearance.

They found that red-headed finches were more aggressive, while black-headed birds were bolder and took more risks.

The findings are published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

"Our idea is that the colour signals their behavioural tactics," said lead researcher Leah Williams.

Red-headed Gouldian finches were found to be the "aggressors" of the species

She explained that the research also suggests that "bolder" black-headed finches may act as "leaders" in a group.

Gouldian finches are found in open, subtropical woodland and are known for their colourful plumage.

In the wild, the majority of the birds have black or red heads, although a very small number are yellow-headed. (...)

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