A while back, I wrote about dating lessons we can learn from monkeys. Today, I'll share with you the results of a recent study that highlights a dating lesson we can learn... from birds. American researchers set out to analyze the social networks of a species of wild finches to study the relationship between how pretty they are (ornament elaboration), how social they are (social lability), and how successful they are at mating. So they captured and banded a whole bunch of finches, and tracked them year-round.
The researchers found that less elaborate males (the "ugly" ones) shifted social groups more often than the prettier males. When it came to finding a mate, this party-hopping behavior somewhat compensated for their ugliness: the highly social birds were more successful at finding a mate when compared with equally ugly but less social birds.
There's an important lesson here: to increase your chance of mating, it might be a good idea to vary who you hang out with. I'm sure Dear Abby would approve.
Reference: Structure of social networks in a passerine bird: consequences for sexual selection and the evolution of mating strategies. (2010) Oh and Badyaev, Am Nat 176(3):E80-9.