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The Influence of Some Experiential and Genetic Factors, Including Hormones, On the Visible Courtship Behavior of Budgerigars (Melopsit Tacus)

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Eight precopulatory behaviors were quantified for singly-caged, visually isolated male and female Budgerigars that were castrated and/or given different dosages of testosterone progesterone, estradiol with or without progesterone or a placebo. Feminine "soliciting for copulation" seemed to be influenced mainly by blood estrogen levels, and not by other genetic and/or experiential factors associated with a feminine sexual identity. Estrogen and testosterone both stimulated "intention to mount", but only in males. Of the remaining six typically masculine precopulatory displays, no one factor seems to explain why, under typical breeding conditions, these precopulatory activities are observed to be performed mainly by male Budgerigars - to the extent that they have been denoted as masculine behaviors. This study identifies three factors apart from the different and specific stimuli presented by a mate: (1) the presence of high levels of plasma gonadal hormones; (2) other genetic and/or experiential factors related to a masculine sexual identity; and (3) an interaction of "I" and "2" whereby "2" prevents a greater responsiveness to hormonal stimuli. Data suggest that, when the varying and specific signals from a mate are disregarded, factor "I" may be most responsible for the "masculine nature" of Pumping and factor "2" for Bill-hooking and factor "3" interactions" for intention to mount and displays containing the nudging component, whereas those displays that also contain the Bill-hooking component seem to be associated with a baseline sexual difference and those displays that begin with Nudging followed by Pumping are stimulated by gonadal hormone levels. Thus, different interactions of hormonal and other factors associated with a sexual identity seem to influence the quantities of different precopulatory displays performed by "isolated" Budgerigars.

Affiliations: 1: University of Colorado Medical Center, Denver, Co., U.S.A.


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