Tiny Birds Prefer Flying with Friends: How These Birds Stick Together

First Posted: Feb 01, 2016 11:23 AM EST

Small birds apparently prefer flying with company. While large birds are sociable among each other, researchers haven't focused on small birds. Now, they've found that smaller birds can also be sociable among one another.

The sociability of swans, geese and corvids has been studied extensively by scientists. These large birds tend to form stable, long-lasting bonds. However, this peculiarity has not been seen in smaller birds. Now, researchers have taken a closer look at these birds to better understand their sociability.

"In this study we show how the Eurasian siskin is able to form stable group relationships lasting for periods of several years in addition to travelling in each other's company over distances spanning more than 1,000 km," said Juan Carlos Senar, lead author of the new study, in a news release.

In this study, the researchers used data from the European Union for Bird Ranging (EURING), an institution which bands and tracks birds. The scientists examined data on 42,707 Eurasian siskins in total between 1907 and 2011.

So what did they find? It turns out that Eurasian siskins can remain together in the same group for up to four years. The results also showed that they can travel with other individual groups for distances up to 1,300 km. With regard to the types of groups the birds travelled in, records confirmed they could either be single-sex or mixed-sex groups.

The findings reveal a bit more about this species of bird, and show that small birds can be just as social as large ones, traveling together for years over large distances.

The findings are published in the journal Bird Study.

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