1 July 2001 Observational Learning in Hummingbirds
Douglas L. Altshuler, Andrea M. Nunn
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Migratory hummingbirds forage on diverse assemblages of flowers varying in shape, color, and accessibility. Do hummingbirds learn to feed from flowers by observing other hummingbirds? Learning abilities of Ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris), Broad-tailed (Selasphorus platycercus), and Rufous (S. rufus) hummingbirds were studied in the presence or absence of a knowledgeable tutor. In two sequential trials hummingbirds learned to feed from artificial feeders of increasing complexity. Feeders in the first trial had easy access and were colored red at the nectar spout. In this initial trial, hummingbirds attempted to feed from the artificial feeder regardless of tutor presence, but tutored birds learn to feed more quickly. Feeders in the second trial were uncolored and the nectar spout was surrounded by a long artificial corolla. Tutored birds again learned to feed more quickly than their solitary counterparts. However, both untutored and tutored hummingbirds learned to feed more quickly in the second trial than the first, suggesting that the initial task of identifying a novel feeding resource is more difficult than learning how to access an identified resource.

Douglas L. Altshuler and Andrea M. Nunn "Observational Learning in Hummingbirds," The Auk 118(3), 795-799, (1 July 2001). https://doi.org/10.1642/0004-8038(2001)118[0795:OLIH]2.0.CO;2
Received: 7 February 2000; Accepted: 1 January 2001; Published: 1 July 2001
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