Wild bird “gestures” that their partner can do first (this is very special)

Wild bird “gestures” that their partner can do first (this is very special)

If you approach a door at the same time as another person, the other person may indicate with a wave of their hand that you can enter first. This is very common for us humans. But scientists have now discovered that some birds do it too.

This can be read in the magazine Current biology. “Our latest discovery is that Japanese great tits use gestures to communicate with their partners,” researcher Toshitaka Suzuki succinctly summarizes the study.

It's a surprising discovery. It has long been thought that communicating through gestures was something only humans did. Now we know better. Observations of great apes later showed that they also engage in this form of nonverbal communication. Follow-up studies showed that other animal species – such as crows and fish – could also expect it. But more often these involved “simple gestures”, which were intended, for example, to direct others to one or another object of interest. However, symbolic gestures – such as a small movement with an open hand to indicate that the other person can enter a space before you – appear to be used only by humans. The researchers also thought they could explain this; Such gestures appear to require complex cognitive skills.

But now researchers have shown that the big little Japanese mite (Barros is a minor) Capable of symbolic gestures. They based this conclusion on observations of 16 Japanese tits, who together formed 8 pairs. These pairs sincerely care for their young who were in the nesting box. The researchers monitored Japanese great tits as they approached a nest box with food hundreds of times. I soon noticed something. When parents bring food to the nest box, they often settle first near the nest box, and then one of them Some flapped their wings. And he went with it immediately The other goes to the nest box firstWhile the bird that moved its wings is waiting for its turn. After observing hundreds of such visits to the nest box, the researchers became clear: by flapping its wings, the bird signals that its partner can enter the nest box first.

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“We were surprised that the results were so clear,” Suzuki said. “We have seen that the Japanese great tit only flaps its wings in the presence of its partner, and after we have seen this, that partner always enters the nest box first.”

Female gesture more often
Research reveals that females more often than males “indicate” that their partner could go first. It does not matter which of them reached the vicinity of the nest box first. When females flap their wings, it is often the male who enters the nest box first. When the female is not flapping, she usually enters the nest box before the male.

A rather convincing gesture
According to the researchers, the fact that we are actually dealing with a symbolic gesture and not just some random flutter is evident through various factors. So they first pointed out that birds only “signal” when their partner is present. This partner almost always responded by entering the nest box first. Furthermore, the flapping stops as soon as that partner enters the nest box. In addition, the researchers reveal that the flapping was clearly directed toward the mate and not the nest box; A strong indication that we are not dealing with a “simple gesture” intended only to indicate the location of the nest box to a partner.

“There is a hypothesis that walking on two legs allowed humans to move their hands more freely, which in turn contributed to the evolution of gestures,” Suzuki explains. “Similarly, when birds perch on branches, their wings can move more freely, and we believe this facilitates the development of gestural communication. We will continue to decipher what birds are trying to say with their gestures, sounds and combinations. Not only does this allow us to continue exploring the rich world of animal languages, but It is also important if we want to uncover the origins and development of our language.

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