By shaking his tail, the male pea___ causes the crest on the female’s head to vibrate.
Everyone knows that the luxurious tails of pea___s are needed to seduce pea___s. But it is still unclear what exactly is seductive about these tails. On the one hand, it seems that whichever male has a larger tail will have better luck with females – he will mate more often and leave more offspring, in other words, he will have greater reproductive success. However, in 2008, a group of Japanese ornithologists who studied the behavior of wild pea___s for seven years stated that there was no relationship between tail size and reproductive success of males.
In 2011, the tail was rehabilitated, but with reservations: according to zoologists from Queen’s University in Kingston, the size of the tail does play a role in the mating ritual, but females are more likely to weed out completely unsuitable applicants based on it, rather than choose the very best. Finally, in 2013, the Journal of Experimental Biology published an article arguing that female pea___s look not so much at the tail itself, but at the base of it, and that the long colored feathers are needed only so that the male can be seen in thick vegetation.
(Photo: digoarpi / Depositphotos) View full size ‹ ›
But feathers themselves are not everything. The pea___ doesn’t just open its tail, it shakes it, and this noise, some believe, helps attract the attention of the female. We also hear the cracking of a pea___’s tail, but the true, so to speak, richness of its sound is inaccessible to us: several years ago, biologists discovered that the shaking tail emits low-frequency sound waves that our human ear cannot distinguish. And the question immediately arose: why do pea___s need these “infrasounds”.
Some time ago, researchers from Haverford College and the University of British Columbia noticed that the small feathers in the crest of pea___s resemble tail feathers – not in size, but in some structural features. For new experiments, they took fifteen tufts of an ordinary pea___ and played them recordings of the sounds that the male’s tail makes, and, for comparison, a recording of white noise. The crests were filmed with a high-speed camera. And it turned out that the feathers in the crest tremble in resonance with low-frequency sounds from the tail. Not only female crests tremble, but also male ones, so our title should be clarified: males make both females and themselves tremble, but not entirely, but only their crests.
Pea___s not only spread their tail and shake it, they also lightly fap their wings. An article in PLoS ONE says that when the males flapping their wings, the females’ crests also began to tremble. It can be assumed that by making the crests of pea___s vibrate, the male makes himself known, even if he himself is hidden in the foliage, and it is low-frequency sounds that are important here.
However, so far the researchers have only discovered that the feathers on the heads of females respond to male noise. Whether this affects the behavior of females, whether they really pay attention to the male because of the vibrations, remains to be determined in further experiments.