The findings of this research, published in the journal Animal Behaviour, represent the first known case of such ability in any bird species.
In the study, researchers tracked the behaviour of female crimson rosellas incubating eggs on nest-boxes and found they preferentially nest on boxes that smell like an individual of the same subspecies or species. Females also showed a preference for a parrticular sex based on smell.
According to Milla Mihailova (PhD student, CIE), who led the project, the stunningly unexpected findings are an indication that birds’ olfactory senses may play a larger role in ecology and evolution than previously thought.
More information about the research can be found on:
- Deakin University: Birds of a smelly feather stick together
- Science Direct: Odour-based discrimination of subspecies, species and sexes in an avian species complex, the crimson rosella
- Australian Geographic: Birds can sniff out their own species
- Geelong Advertiser: Crimson rosella uses beak to sniff fellow birds and potential mates, Deakin research finds