Flamingos Can Be Picky About Company

Expend some time looking at flamingos and you may believe that not much goes on in their small heads. But these sophisticated avians actually direct complicated social lives. Each hen has selected other men and women it prefers to invest time with, and other individuals it avoids. In other terms, flamingos have close friends.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the WWT, manages a amount of wetlands in the Uk, some of which have communities of captive aquatic birds, together with flamingos. “They failed to very know irrespective of whether they could just acquire a flamingo out of the natural environment and adhere it in a new flock and it would be fantastic? Or ought to they care a little bit a lot more about the social choices that the birds were being making.”

Paul Rose, a psychologist at the College of Exeter’s Centre for Investigate in Animal Conduct.

For 5 a long time, Rose and his crew observed the everyday goings-on of 5 of the world’s 6 diverse flamingo species housed at the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire: the 5 species are the Chilean, Andean, American, James’, and lesser flamingos.

“The partnerships that we see concerning birds are non-random. The birds are choosing who to associate with.”

Male-feminine pairs invest time collectively, but so do exact same-sex pairs and even groups of 3 or four. And all those interactions can past for numerous a long time. The results are in the journal Behavioural Processes. [Paul E. Rose & Darren P. Croft, Analyzing the social networks of four flocks of captive flamingos more than a 5-12 months time period: Temporal, environmental, team and health and fitness influences on assortment]

“So there were being some flamingos in the team that actually failed to care who their partner was for that day, they would flit around…and they would have numerous diverse interactions with numerous diverse birds.”

And of training course there were being other flamingos that were being a lot less social butterfly and a lot more lone wolf. But even they had a few shut close friends.

“All those birds that were being least gregarious…had a lot more financial investment in a lesser amount of social bonds with flamingos that they understood actually perfectly.”

Rose thinks that flamingos may possibly have developed their social lives due to their wetland habitats—in which the methods they require are concentrated in a modest region.

“The social organization is layered on top of this require to be in just one natural environment, so you have to be gregarious. If flamingos know their companions, if they know that these 6 birds, say, are pleasant, and they get on with them, they can then squander a lot less vitality scrapping and squabbling with other birds that they you should not get on with.”

By investing time with their close friends, flamingos can a lot more efficiently immediate their constrained time and vitality to functions like foraging and mating.

“If I want to go stand on just one leg and preen my feathers, I am going to go and stand on my leg and preen my feathers following to Fiona, for the reason that I get on with her, relatively than following to Frank, for the reason that I dislike him and we are going to just scrap.”

If all this appears acquainted, perfectly, we all know a Fiona. As perfectly as a Frank.

—Jason G. Goldman

(The over textual content is a transcript of this podcast)