Mate sampling behaviour of female pied flycatchers: evidence for active mate choice
This paper presents major new evidence for active mate choice of female pied flycatchers, Ficedula hypoleuca. Fifteen color-ringed females were released into a study area containing 23 unmated males defending one nestbox each. Through intensive surveillance, the behavior of the females was observed during 2 consecutive days. Twenty-two of the males received a total of 131 female visits. Six of the females settled in the study area, and their premating period lasted 1.3–2.5 days. The females were seen searching for mates for at least 6–32 h and were seen visiting at least 1–9 different males. Hence, some of the females rejected males before mating. Nevertheless, the females settled close to the site of release (range: 16–243 m), suggesting that they mated with one of the first males encountered. Females visited males most frequently in the morning, and the diurnal distribution of visits was significantly correlated with male song activity.