There are two main types of Gouldian finches: red-headed and black-headed, and it seems that they differ in character. The red-headed are more aggressive and risk-averse than the black headed, while these are bolder and seem to take the lead more often, according to a recent study published in the journal Animal Behaviour.
The researchers, from the Liverpool John Moores University and the University of London, made a series of tests on 40 Gouldian finches, with the described results.
‘Our idea is that the colour signals their behavioural tactics,’ says researcher Leah J. Williams, co-author of the study. ‘The black-headed birds stay away from the red-headed birds because they’re signalling that they’re aggressive, and this stops them getting into an escalated conflict.’
The Gouldian finches, which live in Australia, are born brown, and get their color when they’re two months old. Now researchers want to investigate whether the personality is determined by the color or the other way around.
Source: BBC Nature
Williams, L., King, A., & Mettke-Hofmann, C. (2012). Colourful characters: head colour reflects personality in a social bird, the Gouldian finch, Erythrura gouldiae Animal Behaviour DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.04.025
Essays in Animal Behaviour
Edited by Jeffrey R. Lucas and Leigh W. Simmons