In a bid to understand bird psychology in the realm of social networks and to verify if there is any truth in the idiom, 'birds of a feather flock together', researchers from Oxford University tracked thousands of birds with radio tags around Wytham Woods near Oxford.
Scientists mapped their social networks and found that birds with similar personalities flock together. The research revealed that birds select their friends based not only on the similarity of species, but personality as well.
In a startling revelation, researchers found that shy male great tits often sought the company of other birds with similar disposition. Withdrawn birds maintained a distance and kept away from crowding of other birds. The shy birds had asmaller group of friends and also formed more stable relationships.
Lucy Aplin, from the university, said: 'There has been a lot of work describing the range of individual personalities in the great tit. Now we are linking it to the social networks and social organization of the species, which hasn't been done before.'
Shy birds were slow in the exploration of their environment. The bold ones stressed more on the number of so-called friends and being in a group. They attached more value to quantity than quality of relationships.
'Measuring the social networks we could see that bolder birds tended to hop between foraging flocks and have short-term foraging associations, while shy birds tended to maintain a foraging association over a long time,' said Aplin.