Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 21–25

Female mate choice in the zebra finch — the effect of male beak colour and male song

  • Sarah A. Collins
  • Christene Hubbard
  • Anne M. Houtman

DOI: 10.1007/BF00167055

Cite this article as:
Collins, S.A., Hubbard, C. & Houtman, A.M. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1994) 35: 21. doi:10.1007/BF00167055


Studies of female mate preference in zebra finches (Taenopygia guttata) have shown that male beak colour and song rate are important. However, the two characters are correlated. Here the effect of beak colour and song rate on female choice are examined independently. In mate choice tests involving two males, beak colour was manipulated artificially using nail varnish. The results showed that females showed a significant preference for males with a high song rate, but not with a red beak. Females did not prefer males with a red beak if song rate was low and females preferred males with orange beaks who expressed a high song rate. Female preference for males with red beaks was not found when beak and song characters were no longer correlated.

Key words

Mate preference Zebra finch Song rate Beak colour 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah A. Collins
    • 1
  • Christene Hubbard
    • 2
  • Anne M. Houtman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyEdward Grey InstituteOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Central Science LaboratorySloughUK

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