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An Interspecific Comparison of Individual and Species Recognition in the Passerines Turdus Migratorius and Cyanocitta Cristata

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Robins (Turdus migratorius) and blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) were raised in heterospecific and conspecific pairs to observe the impact of early social experience on the later ability to recognize and associate with conspecifics. Birds were also tested to determine if they could distinguish between a 'nestmate' (the bird they were raised with), versus an unfamiliar bird of the nestmate's species. All choices involved combinations of the two species. After thirty days of being raised with another individual (approximately day 10 to day 40 post-hatch), each experimental subject was tested in a weight-sensitive electronic 'choice' apparatus. Blue jays preferred the company of a nestmate over a non-nestmate. Blue jays also chose the nestmate's species when given a choice between two unfamiliar birds, robins chose the alternative to the nestmate's species and did not discriminate between the nestmate and its conspecific.

Affiliations: 1: (Boston University Department of Biology, Boston, Massaschusetts, 02215

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