Male red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) assess the RHP of neighbors by watching contests
- Cite this article as:
- Freeman, S. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1987) 21: 307. doi:10.1007/BF00299968
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Motivation to fight and willingness to risk the use of dangerous weapons, two factors which can be decisive in predicting the winners of asymmetric animal contests, are readily bluffed in display. When contests are decided by motivation to fight or “daring”, more reliable information about contest asymmetries may be gained by watching actual fights than by watching displays. By presenting mounts to territorial red-winged blackbirds and scoring how aggressively a territory holder attacks the mount, then recording any subsequent intrusions over established boundaries, I showed that neighbors are likely to intrude upon focal males that fail to attack the mount vigorously. This result suggests that red-winged blackbirds watch contests to assess the RHP of neighbors.