Attention henpecked husbands: animal experts have shown that, for cockatiels at least, a one-sided relationship is the best way to ensure harmonious family life. The cockatiel mating game is largely a case of ‘opposites attract’, says Rebecca Fox of the University of California, Davis, who led the research. She found that cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) actively seek out potential mates with a personality different to their own, and that these unions tend to progress most smoothly. “Cockatiels are similar to us in the way they have relationships,” says Fox. “They have long, cooperative partnerships, raise young together, and compatibility is important to them. It’s something people can relate to.”
The most important consideration for the birds is how agreeable or aggressive their partner is, Fox found when studying their mating tactics. Most aggressive cockatiels tend to court only those that are more docile, and vice versa.