Zebra Finch

The Zebra finch (Binomial name-Taeniopygia guttata) is the most common song bird of Central Australia. The red-beaked bird is also categorized under a ‘perching bird’. It can be found on Timor Island.

Key Points

  • Male Zebra finches start singing at puberty while female finches lack the singing ability. This is due to the development of the nervous system for singing.
  • Their songs are usual mating calls and the distance calls of these birds are used to find the location of one another.
  • Zebra finches normally travel in groups of 50 to 100 birds, first flying apart and then coming back together.

New Research by California University

  • As per the new research from the University of California, Zebra Finches can rapidly memorize the signature sounds of at least 50 different members of their flock and pick out every peer bird’s distant call.
  • As per the research, as humans recognize who is calling them, Zebra Finches have a capability of language mapping.
  • This near-human capacity for language mapping shows that birds’ brains are highly adapted for sophisticated social communication.

How was the research conducted?

In a two-part experiment, first of all, 20 captive zebra finches were trained to differentiate between birds and their vocalizations. Then half the birds were tested on memorizing songs, while the other group of birds was assessed on distance or contact calls. Then the tasks were switched between the groups.

After this, the birds were placed inside a chamber one at a time and were introduced to sounds as part of a reward system. The aim was to train the birds to respond to particular zebra finches by hearing several different renditions of those birds’ distinct vocalizations and memorizing them. Both male and female zebra finches performed well in the tests.

The findings of the research were published in the magazine Science Advances.