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To investigate the function of Estrildid nestling mouth-patterns.

by Ian Hinze

Dr. Ben Mines, a 2nd-year Ph.D. student at the Zoology Department of Cambridge University in England is trying to investigate the function of Estrildid nestling mouth-patterns, which is not an easy task, and he's beginning by trying to collect as many color photographs of as many Estrildids as he can — a simple look at their diversity and pattern of development should help point him in the right direction.

Mines has managed to collect several southern African Estrildids, but copies of photos, slides or video footage of nestling Estrildids you might have would be gratefully appreciated. Contact: The Department of Zoology, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ. Phone:01223 336610 or e-mail:

Mines is currently working on the behavioral ecology of the brood-parasitic whydahs in southern Africa. His work mainly concentrates on investigating how the whydah nestling, in particular the paradise whydah, is able to exploit its Estrildid host parents to gain more than its fair share of food. The whydahs and indigo birds are able to mimic the appearance of their host species, including the mouth-markings.


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