Wild Things: Mongooses, Bladderworts and More...
Fairy-wrens, wasps, and a nearly 3,000 year old big toe
- By T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Laura Helmuth, Jesse Rhodes and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, April 2011
Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens splendens) calling. (Steven David Miller / NaturePL.com)
Male splendid fairy-wrens sing a special song when they hear the call of a butcherbird, their predator. The behavior would seem to paint a target on the fairy-wren. But University of Chicago scientists report the males are actually issuing a mating call. They are choosing a moment when fearful females are most attentive, the researchers found. The effect may be like that of a scary movie on humans, in which fear brings a date closer.
Learn more about splendid fairy wrens at the Encyclopedia of Life.
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