Do you know how does the bowerbird attract a mate? Most male birds advertise their presence to the females in the breeding season by bright plumage. The male bowerbird, however, displays no impressive finery and so must resort to alternative means of attracting a mate. Instead, he builds her an elaborate bower and decorates it with brightly colored objects in order to impress her.
How does the bowerbird attract a mate
There are seventeen species in the bowerbird group and four types of courting activity are shown. The first group does not bother with a bower all. The second group, called stage-makers’, clears an area of ground and lays freshly picked leaves on it. Other bowerbirds, ‘maypole-builders’, heap twigs around the base of a sapling until the pile is several feet high. Another heap around a neighboring tree joined to the first to form a tent-like bower, often with an associated garden.
The bird decorates the walls and floor with fresh flowers, mosses, bright berries and snails’ shells. The most elaborate bowers are those of the ‘avenue-builders’. The bird first lays down a floor of twigs. Then two walls of interwoven twigs are erected, arched at the top, and also decorated with objects such as pebbles, feathers and flowers. Two species even daub the walls with coloring using leaves or bark as a ‘brush’.
Which birds have the most attractive displays?
Of all the birds, the bird of paradise develops the most varied of spectacular plumage during the breeding season. The tails of the males are usually elaborated into beautiful fans with a pair of extra-long feathers trailing down behind. Some birds are adorned with long neck feathers which can be erected in colorful ruffs around them, creating elegant displays.
Naturally such beautiful birds did not go unnoticed when their home, the island of New Guinea, was first explored in the sixteenth century. A tremendous trade in the birds’ skins grew up to satisfy the fashion demands of the nineteenth century. Many birds became endangered. Fortunately the trade in bird of paradise feathers is now controlled and so the birds have a chance to recover their numbers.
Why is this Jay covered in ants?
The Jay is deliberately letting the wood ants run all over its wings and body by standing near their nest with its wings spread. This is called ‘anting’ and many birds have been seen doing it, although others actually rub the ants into their feathers. It is thought that the formic acid form the ants (which makes the sting when the ant bites) stimulates the birds’ plumage, and May perhaps act as an insecticide.
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