Sexy male displays, by birds, lead to healthier chicks. This information comes to us via research done in France by Adeline Loyau and Federic Lacroix and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
The researchers were working with endangered birds (Houbara bustards) which were in a captive breeding program. They found that those female birds that had an opportunity to observe attractive male displays had better reproductive outcomes. The female birds were exposed to three males, one of which was the most attractive in his courting display.
The female bustards were artificially inseminated, ruling out quality of sperm as a factor in the health of ensuing chicks.
The female bustards who observed sexy bustards produced more testosterone which serves to encourage healthy bone density and muscle mass. The hatch rate for eggs laid was also higher when the females observed sexy males prior to insemination.
The research provides important leads in improving captive breeding programmes.