Gay Birds Just as Faithful as Straight Pairs

Animal relationships are complicated, too, notes UC researcher
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Aug 16, 2011 3:04 AM CDT
Zebra finches perch in a aviary in France.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Yes, Virginia, there are gay zebra finches, and they're just as faithful to one another as heterosexual pairs. That's what scientists have discovered observing the little birds preen and sing to each other. "The research showed relationships in animals can be more complicated than just a male and a female who meet and reproduce, even in birds," said lead researcher Julie Elie from the University of California in Berkeley. "My observations led me to this surprising result: same-sex individuals also interact in affiliative manners, like male-female pairs."

Elie found that when male finches were raised in same sex groups more than half of them paired up with another male, reports the Telegraph. They stuck with their male partner even if females were introduced to the group. Zebra finches mate for life. The finding indicates that reproduction is not the only goal of partnering, said Elie. "A pair-bond in socially monogamous species represents a cooperative partnership that may give advantages for survival," she added. "Finding a social partner, whatever its sex, could be a priority."

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