QUIRKY WORLD ... Offspring suffer when sparrows upset love nest

Britain: When a cheating spouse upsets the sparrow love nest, it is the children who suffer, scientists have discovered.

QUIRKY WORLD ... Offspring suffer when sparrows upset love nest

Male sparrows whose mates are unfaithful bring home less food for their offspring, a study has shown.

Sparrows form monogamous partnerships but, as humans well know, some marriages are more successful than others. Many female sparrows are unfaithful and have offspring with other males. However, their infidelity comes at a cost, according to the research.

Cuckolded males make the family pay by providing less food for their chicks than those with trustworthy partners, the findings reveal.

They seem to respond to suspected cheating rather than a recognition that not all the chicks in the nest are theirs.

Lead scientist Julia Schroeder, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, said: “Males changed their behaviour based on their partner. When they switched from a faithful partner to one prone to infidelity, they provided less food for their brood.

“If chicks were switched into a nest where the female was faithful, then the father at that nest kept up his hard work providing for the chicks, suggesting they have no mechanism, such as smell, to determine which chicks are theirs.

“Instead, the males may use cues from the female’s behaviour during her fertile period — for example how long she spends away from the nest.”

The team studied 200 male and 194 female sparrows on the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel over 12 years. The research is published in the journal The American Naturalist.

Forget the toasters

US: Never mind toasters, blenders, and slow cookers. Kayla and Ricky Smith, tornado survivors from Joplin, Missouri, had a more practical request for a wedding gift — shelter from the next big storm.

The Smiths are on the leading edge of an odd trend in Tornado Alley: Engaged couples using bridal registries or word of mouth to request donations so they can purchase safe rooms — strong, pre-fabricated shelters typically installed in houses or garages.

Bitcoin auction

Australia: About €11m in bitcoins will be auctioned in Sydney, after police confiscated the digital currency as proceeds of crime.

Ernst & Young transaction partner Adam Nikitins said the accountancy firm was running the process.

The June auction is only the second such bitcoin auction in the world after the US Marshals Service sold 144,000 over the course of two years, ending in 2015, that had been confiscated from Ross Ulbricht, who founded online drug bazaar Silk Road.

Bidders can register until June 7 for the 24,518 bitcoins on offer. The 48-hour sealed auction will take place from June 20.

Smart choice?

Britain: The millennial generation would rather allow a friend to share their toothbrush or their bed than allow them to use their mobile phone, according to the O2 Mobile Life Report.

Fewer than one in 20 (4.5%) of those aged between 18 and 24 would allow a close friend access to their smartphone, while almost one in 10 (9%) would allow a friend to use their toothbrush — in spite of the millions of bacteria that are likely to inhabit it.

One in six (15%) would allow a friend to share their bed and a quarter (25%) would share their clothes.

Home under the hammer

US: A 10,000 sq ft Connecticut home that is a replica of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is up for auction.

The co-founder of the Springfield, Massachusetts-based Friendly’s restaurant chain had the house in Somers built for $7.7m (€6.9m) in 2014 ahead of his 100th birthday. No one has ever lived in the home, and it failed to sell for a reduced listing price of $4.9m.

S Prestley Blake had the home built because he is a fan of Jefferson, the third US president. Jefferson’s Monticello was built more than 28 years in Charlottesville, Virginia. The home mimics the original from the outside but has an updated interior that includes a lift, gourmet kitchen and lights and heating that can be controlled from a phone app.

Stripped of humour

England: A prank that saw a stripper perform in front of sixth formers at a top public school has been condemned by teachers.

Pupils at Marlborough College in Wiltshire booked the male stripper for Muck-Up Day — a tradition in which students play pranks on their last day before exams.

The Sun reported the stripper was dressed as a sailor and performed his act in the school’s central courtyard. The stripper, named only as Ross, told the newspaper: “I didn’t know I would be performing at a school until I got there. I was told it was going to be for a girl’s birthday. At the end of the day it was just a prank, and I didn’t take all my clothes off.”

Former pupils include the Duchess of Cambridge and Samantha Cameron, the wife of British prime minister David Cameron.

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