Visual recognition of individual conspecific males by female zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata

Shirly Fleischman, Joseph Terkel, Anat Barnea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to determine whether visual recognition of conspecifics exists in zebra finches, and if so, whether the strength of this recognition is a function of the social relationships among flock members. To achieve this aim, we trained adult female zebra finches to indicate their preference by pecking on one of two photographs presented on a digital screen. We found that female zebra finches possessed a very good ability to recognize their mates, and a slightly lower but still good ability to recognize other, socially closely related males that were members of their own small flock. Moreover, we found that the individual integrity of the small flocks continued to be maintained, as subgroups, even after these were combined to form one large flock, indicating that zebra finches demonstrate different levels of social relationships between flock members, and that these relationships are long-lasting and stable. However, when part of a larger flock, the females were unable to recognize males that were socially distant to them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Behaviour
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour


  • Taeniopygia guttata
  • individual recognition
  • pecking-key
  • social structure
  • visual conspecific recognition
  • visual mate recognition
  • zebra finches


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