BUILDING A BOUDOIR Who knew that gardening was an act of seduction? Male bowerbirds are famed for their elaborate nests, decorated over the years with colorful trinkets and flowers. Researchers have now learned that Australian bowerbirds are gardeners with a flair for genetic engineering.
• They noticed that bowers were always surrounded by a lush garden of potato bushes (Solanum ellipticum), with bright purple flowers and round green fruits. Observation showed that the birds were not choosing areas with these bushes; rather, by bringing green fruit into the area, they became “cultivators” (whether intentionally or not, we don’t know). Since they choose the brightest fruits, they effectively select specific genotypes.
• Bowerbirds are master engineers. They construct their bowers so that they look bigger than they really are when sitting in them. They clear litter and leaves from around their bowers, protecting them from fire and create the perfect garden space. So get gardening, guys.
Amazing bower constructions: Life – The Vogelkop Bowerbird: Nature’s Great Seducer – BBC One
Courtship dance set to music: Flame bowerbird display, parade du paradisier du prince d’Orange
Reference: Madden et al., 2012. Male spotted bowerbirds propagate fruit for use in their sexual display. Current Biology http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.02.057