New research has found that birds who live next to their friends and family live longer and experience less stress.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of East Anglia monitored Seychelles warblers who live in the Seychelles Islands. The team examined how the birds interacted with each other and the impact those interactions had on their stress levels.
The results showed that birds who lived near family and friends did not fight with each other, and that birds who had friends and family close showed fewer signs of aging and stress.
The researchers were able to measure the warblers stress levels by looking at telomeres, which are the caps at the end of a chromosome.
Telomeres are important in gauging stress and aging because they erode faster as a result of both. The birds who weren’t fighting with their neighbors had longer telomeres.
“Territory owners who are constantly fighting with neighbours are stressed and have little time to do other important things – such as finding food and producing offspring – and their health suffers as a result,” said Kat Bebbington, lead author of the study.
Birds and other animals are like humans in that they “own” a piece of property, a home or nest that they defend against predators. Territorial disputes with unfamiliar neighbors result in a stressful environment and impacts health and longevity of the birds.
The research helps to show how birds socialize and interact with each other, particularly amidst habitat degradation where they find themselves in unfamiliar situations with close, unknown neighbors.
Bebbington and fellow researchers hope that this study will showcase the importance of understanding the complexities of bird relations and how they impact a bird’s health and well-being.