Researchers have found that gay zebra finches form monogamous life-long bonds with their same-sex partners and even share a nest in the same way that heterosexual finches do.

The study, published in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, also found that members of same-sex couples showed the same singing and preening behaviour towards each other as their mixed-sex counterpart couples.

“Relationships in animals can be more complicated than just a male and a female who meet and reproduce, even in birds,” lead researcher Julie Elie, from the University of California Berkeley, told the BBC.

Elie and her colleagues raised groups of same-sex finches and found that around half of them bonded with other finches of the same sex.

When she then introduced them to female finches, the scientists discovered that more than half of the same-sex paired finches ignored the females and continued with their same-sex coupling.

Elie said that her observations suggest that the birds do not pair up solely to procreate. “A pair-bond in socially monogamous species represents a cooperative partnership that may give advantages for survival. Finding a social partner, whatever its sex, could be a priority,” she said.

The study adds to a growing body of research that suggests that homosexual behaviour is common in the animal kingdom.

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