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Looks Matter: If swallows aren't spiffy, mates' fidelity is iffy

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11:12am, September 28, 2005

If a male barn swallow's plumage is more attractive than that of other males, his mate is less likely to have furtive flings with other wooers, new research suggests. Even plumage changes during the breeding season, after birds have paired up for the year, have a significant effect.

"The bad news for male swallows is that the mating game is never over," says Rebecca Jo Safran, an evolutionary biologist who was at Cornell University when she and her colleagues there conducted their investigation.

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