Navigation Links
Peacock love songs lure eavesdropping females from afar

Durham, NC Deep in the scrublands of Keoladeo National Park in northwest India, one thing was hard for biologist Jessica Yorzinski to ignore: It wasn't the heat. It wasn't the jackals. It was the squawks of peacocks in the throes of passion.

From behind the trees in the distance, she could hear a loud two-part whoop, the distinctive call that male peacocks make right before mating.

During the peacock courtship dance, a male announces that he's ready to make his move by dashing towards the object of his affection and emitting a singular squawk before mounting his mate.

"Peacocks have a number of different courtship calls, but this is the only one specifically associated with the moment before copulation, a time when the female is finally right in front of the male. It's called the hoot-dash display," said Duke University researcher Jessica Yorzinski.

The amorous peacock's signature hoot poses a puzzle for scientists.

For one, he's already got the girl.

"By that point she's already right there, checking him out. You'd think that he might not need another signal at such a late stage in the courtship process," Yorzinski said.

What's more, the calls could alert potential predators that an easy meal is near. Wild peacocks make quick snacks for jackals, tigers and hawks in their native habitat in South Asia.

"In a sense, they're advertizing that they're distracted and vulnerable. It would be wise for a predator to capitalize on that," Yorzinski said.

Intrigued, Yorzinski recorded the loud carrying-on of males in mid-conquest. Then she played the calls to free-ranging females in India and videotaped their reactions.

At each site, a loudspeaker played copulation calls on one day and silent controls on another day.

The result: the recorded love sounds made by amorous peacocks in the throes of passion drew eavesdropping females from afar. Females approached and spent more time near speakers that were playing hoots compared to silent controls.

To make sure the birds weren't simply drawn to any noise, Yorzinski repeated a similar experiment with captive birds in an outdoor enclosure at Duke University. There, a speaker played two different sounds: peacock copulation calls, or crow caws.

The results matched what she found in the wild. Captive females paid little attention to the speakers when crow caws were playing, but when the love whoops were played, the females moved toward the source of sound and spent more time near the speaker.

"Why they're attracted to these calls and what it tells them these are still open questions," Yorzinski said.

Announcing the fact that he's getting a girl could help a male attract additional mates, she explained.

Studies in other species have shown that females flock towards popular males. "It's like someone's already vouched for him. If he's good enough for one girl, then he might be good enough for another girl, too."

That dating boost could make up for the risks involved in disclosing his whereabouts to potential predators, especially in the birds' native habitat in South Asia where dense trees and grasses make strutting males hard for females to spot.

If distant females are drawn to the love calls made by mating males, what's less clear is what keeps males from boosting their call rate to give the impression that they're more successful than they actually are.

"One of the biggest unanswered questions is why males don't fake it," Yorzinski said. "I've heard males making false calls when there's no mate in sight, so there definitely is some level of cheating going on. Figuring out why they don't do it more often would be the key."

Contact: Robin Ann Smith
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

Related biology news :

1. Computer viruses could take a lesson from showy peacocks
2. Birds that live with varying weather sing more versatile songs
3. Team discovers reason that male moths can keep finding females
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Peacock love songs lure eavesdropping females from afar
(Date:4/18/2017)... , April 18, 2017  Socionext Inc., a global expert in ... media edge server, the M820, which features the company,s hybrid codec ... provided by Tera Probe, Inc., will be showcased during the upcoming ... NAB show at the Las Vegas Convention ... Click ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... , April 13, 2017 UBM,s Advanced Design ... will feature emerging and evolving technology through its ... Summits will run alongside the expo portion of the ... panels and demonstrations focused on trending topics within 3D ... design and manufacturing event will take place June 13-15, 2017 ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... Fla. , April 11, 2017 ... and secure authentication solutions, today announced that it ... Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop ... Thor program. "Innovation has been a ... IARPA,s Thor program will allow us to innovate ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... ... AMRI, a global contract research, development and manufacturing organization ... quality of life, will now be offering its impurity solutions as a stand-alone ... for all new drug products, including the finalization of ICH M7 earlier this ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... its endogenous context, enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the use of exogenous expression ... guides is transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , This complement to ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Proscia Inc ... hosting a Webinar titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is your lab ready?” with ... adoption best practices and how Proscia improves lab economics and realizes an increase ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are the main causes ... each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by air pollution related ... the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , “I knew I ...
Breaking Biology Technology: