Weaverbirds have signature weave patterns

My paper ‘Image analysis of weaverbird nests reveals signature weave patterns’ was published today in The Royal Society Open Science (DOI:10.1098/rsos.150074).

People can be individually identified by their handwriting or by their artistic creations, including architectural designs. Like us animals build physical structures, including nests. To determine whether we could assign a construction signature to nest-building weaverbirds we collaborated with texture analysis expert André Backes from Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Brazil, using computer-aided texture analysis to classify the weave patterns in their nests. We found that individual weaverbirds did indeed produce nests with signature weave patterns. This shows both that like us individual animals have distinct construction styles and that texture analysis can be used to detect this individuality.

Four nests built by two Southern Masked weaverbirds illustrating differences in nest texture between males. The two nests in the top row are built by male (A) and those in the bottom row by male (B).

My publication: ‘Physical cognition: birds learn the structural efficacy of nest material’ proves popular with the media.

Listen to me chat about it live on air with Paul Mooney from RTÉ radio 1 

Left: a nest built with flexible string 
Right: a nest built with stiffer string
Birds that had building experience of the flexible string learnt to avoid it when given a choice, whereas birds that had only experienced building with the stiffer string chose around 50% flexible string when given a choice between the two string types.

Also covered by

  1. The China Development Gateway
  2. China.org.cn
  3. English.news.cn
  4. USA News: Dailynewsen.com
  5. Hits 97.3
  6. Phys org
  7. Pub facts
  8. Sina English
  9. BBC: 10 things we didn’t know last week
  10. CBBC News Round
  11. BBC Sciences and Environment News
  12. A short article in issue 5803 of Cage and Aviary birds