A new study published in Ecology Letters suggests that shy male great tits build stronger bonds with birds in their own flock. This population of birds has been studied in Wytham Woods, near Oxford, UK since 1947.
In case you are wondering, the team determined “shyness” and “boldness” by capturing birds and placing them in a novel environment for 10 minutes. Shy birds were slow to explore the new environment whereas bold birds explored it quickly. The birds were then tagged and tracked using radio transmitters. The researchers observed that “shy” birds tended to remain with the same flock and associated with fewer birds whereas “bold” birds foraged for food with several groups of birds and maintained numerous short-term associations.
In a quote from BBC Nature News study author Aplin said, “Males tend to prefer to associate with individuals with the same personality type as them and we think this might be to do with shy birds avoiding bold males.”
I find it interesting that these behaviors are so similar to those of the students that I come across on a daily basis.
Aplin LM, Farine DR, Morand-Ferron J, Cole EF, Cockburn A, Sheldon BC. Individual personalities predict social behaviour in wild networks of great tits (Parus major). Ecology Letters, 17 SEP 2013. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12181