In behavioral investigations examining mechanisms and functions of inter- and intra specific communications, whether one can manipulate stimulus properties is a critical factor. If we can substitute a real animal with an artificial model, that should greatly advance the research. Here we tested whether male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis) and male Bengalese finches (Lonchura striata var. domestica) emit natural behavior of directed singing to video images of conspecific females. When a conventional cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor was used, birds showed few signs of behavioral responses. However, when a thin film transistor (TFT) liquid crystal display was used, several behavioral responses, mostly sexual displays, to the images were observed. The amount of directed singing emitted towards the TFT projected images were comparable to that emitted to the live female birds in both species of birds. The reason why TFT monitor is much more powerful than CRT monitor in eliciting natural behavior from these birds may lie in the fact that TFT monitor is flickerless while CRT monitor might produce some flickers to the eye of birds that has high critical flicker frequency. TFT monitors should be better substitute of real objects than CRT monitors in behavioral investigations. This technique, combined with modern image processing techniques, should be useful for neuroethological studies of bird behavior.
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