Intimacy across species boundaries: interspecific allopreening between
Spot-necked (Stachyris strialata) and Nonggang Babblers (S.
Allopreening occurs in many species of birds and is known for providing
hygienic and social benefits. While this behavior has been studied
between conspecifics, its occurrence among different species remains
mysterious. Outside of captivity environment, only a few records of
interspecific allopreening exist. In this study, we report the first
documented record of a Spot-necked Babbler (Stachyris strialata)
allopreening a Nonggang Babbler (Stachyris nonggangensis) in a
non-captive environment in southern China. We provide three hypotheses
(social dominance, cleaning mutualism, and hybridization) to explain the
occurrence of this understudied behavior. We suggest that interspecific
allopreening may not be as rare as we assumed if we are in the correct
place to study it. This study contributes to our understanding of not
only the potential mechanism(s) for interspecific allopreening but also
the behavioral ecology of the vulnerable Nonggang Babbler.