Great Tit (Parus major)
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November 13, 2015 1:25 PM EST

Birds are willing to starve themselves to spend more time with their life partners, according to a new study.

Scientists at the University of Oxford discovered that some birds are willing to forego food to stay near their partners during the winter months. The researchers used automated feeding stations to track the eating habits of great tits, a bird species. For each couple, one bird would only able to access certain stations, while its partner was only able to access others. However, researchers found that one bird would end up spending much of its time at its partner’s station even though it was locked out from accessing food there.

‘The choice to stay close to their partner over accessing food demonstrates how an individual bird’s decisions in the short term, which might appear sub-optimal, can actually be shaped around gaining the long-term benefits of maintaining their key relationships,” said research lead Josh Frith.

These ride-or-die birds also were willing to spend extra time with their partners’ flock-mates, the study found. The results of the study were published in Current Biology.

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