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Songbird's testosterone surges at sight of thistle blooms

Seeing the flowers in summer temperatures triggers male goldfinches' reproductive readiness

By
9:12am, January 12, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — As summer heats up, the sight of blooming thistles may give male goldfinches a testosterone kick.

Thistle flowers could signal to American goldfinches that the seeds the songbirds prize for baby food and parent food will soon be abundant, proposes Thomas Luloff of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. And in lab setups, male goldfinches housed among blooming Canadian thistles underwent physiological changes that indicate the birds got the “breed now” message from the combination of summery heat and thrilling thistles, Luloff reported January 6 at the annual meeting of the So

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