Correctly directing social behaviour towards a specific individual requires an ability to discriminate between conspecifics. The mechanisms of individual recognition include phenotype matching and familiarity-based recognition. Communication-based recognition is a subset of familiarity-based recognition wherein the classification is based on behavioural or distinctive signalling properties. Male fowl (Gallus gallus) produce a visual display (tidbitting) upon finding food in the presence of a female. Females typically approach displaying males. However, males may tidbit without food. We used the distinctiveness of the visual display and the unreliability of some males to test for communication-based recognition in female fowl. We manipulated the prior experience of the hens with the males to create two classes of males: S+ wherein the tidbitting signal was paired with a food reward to the female, and S - wherein the tidbitting signal occurred without food reward. We then conducted a sequential discrimination test with hens using a live video feed of a familiar male. The results of the discrimination tests revealed that hens discriminated between categories of males based on their signalling behaviour. These results suggest that fowl possess a communication-based recognition system. This is the first demonstration of live-to-video transfer of recognition in any species of bird.
- video playback
- Gallus gallus
- communication-based recognition
- visual signals