Even the hens raise the crest. Or at least those that have it bigger and that, according to a new study, are the most sought after by the dominant male.
Researchers at the University of Oxford, England, noticed this during an experiment with some hens that had covered the ridge. In front of the hooded hens, the cock apparently chose his companion at random. When, on the other hand, the "headgear" was removed from the females, in 80% of cases the rooster gave preference to those with the largest crest. It is the first time that it is shown that certain showy ornaments are not only used by males, but also by females for mating.
Scientists suspect that the crest is a sign of fertility and that the hens that have it are larger than the larger eggs.
But even those with small crests have their advantages. They are not constantly harassed by the rooster and moreover they are less visible to predators.
Photo: © C.Cornwallis - Oxford University