Studies of Deceit

In a anecdotal account, Simmons (1992) reported that a female marsh harrier courted a male in order to obtain access to food he had stored. She then took this food and fed it to chicks which had been fathered by another male.

More extensive studies focus on possibly deceitful behavior in the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca, a species in which males may possess more than one territory simultaneously. Females gain from mating with a male which has no other mates; males may attempt to deceive females about their mating status (mated or unmated). Females assess whether a male has already mated; if he is alone on a territory during repeated visits by the female, then he is probably unmated. Mated males will be absent from the territory (presumably because they are at another territory with their mate). By repeated sampling of male behavior, females are usually able to avoid mating with previously mated males.

Dale S., Slagsvold T. 1994 Polygyny and deception in the pied flycatcher - can females determine male mating status. Animal Behaviour 48: (5) 1207 1217

Getty, T. 1996. Mate selection by repeated inspection: More on pied flycatchers. Animal Behaviour 51: 739-745

Searcy W. A., Eriksson D., Lundberg A. 1991 Deceptive behavior in pied flycatchers. Behavioral Ecology And Sociobiology 29: (3) 167-175

Simmons R. 1992. Brood adoption and deceit among African marsh harriers Circus ranivorus Ibis 134: (1) 32-34

updated 1/18/01
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