Alexander V. Badyaev

ScienceShot: How Ugly Finches Get the Girls

When a lady finch chooses her mate, she tends to stick with him for the entire mating season, if not for life. That's a problem for unattractive males—those whose feathers are pale yellow versus bright red. So what are these homely birds to do? Club-hop. When male finches sense they're being outclassed by their rivals, they often join a new group where the other finches aren't as attractive, researchers report online this month in The American Naturalist. Yellow males that switched groups had just as much mating success as their red counterparts that stayed put—roughly 84%—proving that it's not who you are but where you are that counts.

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