Some birds can learn to avoid toxic food by watching videos of each other, according to a new study.
Researchers found that showing a bird a video of another bird's response as it ate an unpalatable food item allowed it to learn from a fellow being's experience.
The team from the University of Cambridge found that blue tits learned best by watching their own species, while great tits learned just as well from great tits and blue tits.
The researchers say their findings, published in the journal Journal of Animal Ecology, show that some birds can learn from each other even if they do not belong to the same species, which might explain why different bird species flock together.
"In our previous work using great tits as a 'model predator', we found that if one bird sees another being repulsed by a new type of prey, then both birds learn to avoid it in the future," research team leader Dr Rose Thorogood, now at the University of Helsinki in Finland, said.
"By extending the research we now see that different bird species can learn from each other too."
The researchers tested 39 great tits and 48 blue tits, showing them videos of birds eating food they did not like.
The food consisted of small pieces of almond flakes soaked in a bitter-tasting solution.
The birds in the videos showed their disgust to the meal by vigorously wiping their beaks and shaking their heads.
Both blue tits and great tits ate fewer of the bitter-tasting almond flakes after watching the birds on TV reacting with disgust to the food.
Australian Associated Press