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Birds of a feather don't share a sick bed, at least for house finches

Published on Nov 7, 2012 8:09 AM
 

PARIS (AFP) - House finches avoid sick members of their own species, scientists said Wednesday in a finding that could be useful for tracking the spread of diseases like bird flu that also affects humans.

Laboratory tests showed that the house finch, a particularly social North American species, was able to tell the difference between sick and healthy fellow birds and tended to avoid those that were unwell.

This was the first time that avoidance of sick individuals, already observed in lobsters and bullfrog tadpoles, has been shown in birds, according to a paper published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

"In addition, we found variation in the immune response of house finches, which means that they vary in their ability to fight off infections," co-author Maxine Zylberberg of the California Academy of Sciences told AFP.

 
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