Photo 16 Mar 252 notes The Information Parasites

The pied flycatchers and great tits, both found across much of Europe, have evolved to the point where their existence is quite similar. They eat a lot of the same kinds of food, get killed by the same predators, and even choose the same sites for their nests. This similarity leads to a fair amount of competition, sometimes quite violent. If a bird from one species flies into a crevice to check out a potential nest spot, only to find the other species there, the two birds will fight–sometimes to the death.
The two species aren’t identical, though, and there a couple differences that are particularly intriguing.The great tits build their nests earlier in the year, and the pied flycatchers have a habit of paying visits to great tit nests before building their own.
In recent years, the Finnish researchers have found a likely reason for these visits. The pied flycatchers are gathering intel. They inspect the nests of great tits to help them decide where they will make their own nests. One piece of information they’re interested in is the number of eggs are in a great tit’s nest. If a nest is loaded with eggs, it’s probably a good place for a pied flycatcher to make its own nearby.
The great tit suffers for letting the pied flycatcher get this information. Now a rival bird sets up house on the same territory and starts to compete for the same food. The researchers have found that great tits that attract these neighbors end up with fewer nestlings as a result. The pied flycatchers, on the other hand, have more success in reproducing because they build their nests on good real estate. One species benefits, and one suffers. But the benefit doesn’t come from cockroach innards or cell proteins. The pied flycatcher is stealing information.

(Read More at Phenomena: The Loom)

The Information Parasites

The pied flycatchers and great tits, both found across much of Europe, have evolved to the point where their existence is quite similar. They eat a lot of the same kinds of food, get killed by the same predators, and even choose the same sites for their nests. This similarity leads to a fair amount of competition, sometimes quite violent. If a bird from one species flies into a crevice to check out a potential nest spot, only to find the other species there, the two birds will fight–sometimes to the death.

The two species aren’t identical, though, and there a couple differences that are particularly intriguing.The great tits build their nests earlier in the year, and the pied flycatchers have a habit of paying visits to great tit nests before building their own.

In recent years, the Finnish researchers have found a likely reason for these visits. The pied flycatchers are gathering intel. They inspect the nests of great tits to help them decide where they will make their own nests. One piece of information they’re interested in is the number of eggs are in a great tit’s nest. If a nest is loaded with eggs, it’s probably a good place for a pied flycatcher to make its own nearby.

The great tit suffers for letting the pied flycatcher get this information. Now a rival bird sets up house on the same territory and starts to compete for the same food. The researchers have found that great tits that attract these neighbors end up with fewer nestlings as a result. The pied flycatchers, on the other hand, have more success in reproducing because they build their nests on good real estate. One species benefits, and one suffers. But the benefit doesn’t come from cockroach innards or cell proteins. The pied flycatcher is stealing information.

(Read More at Phenomena: The Loom)

#ecology #parasitism #ornithology #Great Tit #Pied Flycatcher #Ficedula hypoleuca #Ficedula #Muscicapidae #Muscicapoidea #Parus major #Parus #Paridae #Paroidea #Passerida #Passeri #Passeriformes #Psittacopasserae #Eufalconimorphae #Aves #birds #Finland #Europe

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