Anyone with experience in the dating world has encountered someone who lies to fool others into finding them more attractive. In their profiles, people pretend to be younger, taller, and more successful than they really are—and sometimes those deceptions work. A new paper published in the Journal of Animal Cognition this week found that male chickens have a similar habit of exaggerating the truth to attract females.
When a male chicken finds food, it does something called “tidbitting.” Basically, it picks up and then drops a piece of food in repeated rhythmic movements, and makes a specific food call. Hens pay close attention to tidbitting, because a male who provides food is a more attractive mate. Male chickens know this, so they will sometimes pretend they’ve found food in an attempt to draw females closer to them for potential mating opportunities. Of course, nobody likes being manipulated, and that’s true for chickens, too. If a male chicken lies about having food too often, the female chickens get wise to it and stop responding.
The paper’s author, neuroscientist and animal behavior expert Dr. Lori Marino, concludes, “Chickens are behaviorally sophisticated, discriminating among individuals, exhibiting Machiavellian-like social interactions, and learning socially in complex ways that are similar to humans.” Sounds like these birds are ready for Tinder.