Slut Birds

A team of researchers led by a University of Connecticut professor, writing recently in the ornithology journal The Auk, declared the local saltmarsh sparrow to be America’s most promiscuous bird, in that 95 percent of the females hook up with more than one male during a mating season. The likelihood that any two chicks in a nest had the same father was only 23 percent, and in one-third of the nests, all chicks had different fathers. The researchers hypothesized that the frequent flooding of Connecticut’s marshes destroys so many nests that non-choosy females have gained evolutionary advantage. (A wren in Australia and a parrot in Madagascar are said to be comparably promiscuous.)

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