Pair of Zebra finches
A study has shown same-sex pairs of Zebra finches are just as committed and affectionate as opposite-sex couples of finches. Photo Credit: Lip Kee/Flickr/CC-BY

An observational study has concluded that same-sex couples form strong commitments to each other, at least in Zebra finches. The study raises questions about the roles of partnering and companionship among animal species.

Finches known for pairing off

A study appearing in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology examines the mating, courtship and coupling patterns of birds, according to the BBC. Zebra finches, according to Wikipedia, typically mate for life with a member of the opposite sex. The study examines behavior of same-sex couples of Zebra finches, a small songbird native to Indonesia but transplanted throughout the world. The study, led by University of California Berkeley scientist Dr. Julie Edie and two colleagues from the University of Saint-Etienne, raised an entirely male group of Zebra finches to observe if the birds would create the same kind of close bonds formed between males and females. The researchers then introduced female finches into the group to see if any males, previously paired with other males, would break off same-sex pairings to form heterosexual pairings.

Partnerships formed regardless of gender

What Dr. Edie and her colleagues found was that when male finches were raised in an all-male environment, more than half the birds would partner with other male birds. Pairs of male finches that had bonded exhibited the same behavior normally seen in male-female pairings. Same-sex finch couples would sing to each other, preen each others’ feathers and nuzzle beaks, just like heterosexual finch pairs. According to the Daily Mail, after a period of continuous perching with other male finches, a group of females was introduced to a group of eight male finches that had a same-sex companion. Of those eight birds that had taken a same-sex partner, five ignored the females. Dr. Edie said that the implications, according to The Telegraph, were that the impulse to find a mate goes beyond the simple drive to procreate, and that attracting a “social partner, whatever its sex, could be a priority.” Monogamous species, which the Zebra finch is, could thus seek to form a “cooperative partnership that may give advantages for survival.”

Unnatural nature

Certain groups argue homosexuality “goes against nature,” but the opposite is the case. Roy and Silo, a pair of male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, according to the BBC, formed a same-sex-pairing and nurtured a donated baby egg. According to Dr. Edie, female albatrosses have been known to form same-sex partnerships, mate with males to become pregnant, and raise chicks together. Homosexual pairings are also recorded in higher numbers in zoos and populations low on one gender, according to the New York Times. More than 1,500 species, according to, an Australian medicine and science news website, have been observed to engage in homosexual behavior of some sort, including primates.


The BBC:

Daily Mail:

The Telegraph:

Wikipedia on the Zebra Finch:

New York Times:


Post By bryanh (1,420 Posts)


Do you have a fantastic idea related to this article, but just don't have the money you need to start your own company or side-business? Get the loans you need from to help get your new company underway, from the small loan professionals at PersonalMoneyNetwork.

PG&E to pay $70 million for pipeline tragedy

PG&E to pay $70 million for pipeline tragedy

Pacific Gas and Electric Co., a northern California utility, has agreed to pay $70 million to the California town of San Bruno for a pipeline explosion that killed eight people in 2010. Company says it’s remorseful The San Francisco-based power company’s president, Chris Johns, released a statement Monday, saying PG&E is sorry and eager to […]

Judge stabbed and deputy shot in Washington courthouse

Grays Harbor County Courthouse

Following a standoff in a Washington state county courtroom Friday, a man reportedly escaped after shooting a sheriff’s deputy in the shoulder and stabbing a judge in the neck. The man is still at large. Treachery among the tree farms The incident occurred Friday afternoon in the western Washington town of Montesano, which bills itself […]

Microraptor was one flashy little dinosaur

Microraptor fossil

A team of Chinese and American scientists have found that Microraptor, a small four winged dinosaur that went extinct about 130 million years ago, was likely black and almost certainly had glossy, iridescent feathers. Until now, the coloring of extinct creatures was a matter of pure speculation. That may no longer be the case. The […]

Autocorrected message leads to school lockdown

Homage to the Sun

Adjacent schools in Georgia were locked down for two hours Wednesday after a text message reportedly warned of a “gunman” on campus. Later, it was learned that the message was the result of a smartphone autocorrect function, attempting to “fix” the misspelled slang word “gunna.” A series of mixups A series of mixups led to […]