BUILDING A BOUDOIR Who knew that gardening was an act of seduction?

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.

β€’ 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.

β€’ 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

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29 Responses to BUILDING A BOUDOIR Who knew that gardening was an act of seduction?

  1. Rajini Rao says:


    Hah, exactly Fred Krueger πŸ™‚


  2. Looks like a bachelor pad, too ;-?

  3. Rajini Rao says:


    A bit too messy for my liking, Oksana Szulhan . Those white things remind me of empty beer cans πŸ™‚


  4. . . . and empty pizza boxes, TV dinner boxes, last of the dirty dishes piled up, and whatever else :=), Rajini Rao . The Frog Prince, Brian Peters :=)


  5. Thanks for sharing this amazing information Rajini Rao, I didn’t know about this at all.

  6. Rajini Rao says:


    Hehe, we females have already started criticizing the bachelor pad. Next, the female bowerbird is going to start rearranging his “furniture” πŸ˜‰

  7. Rajini Rao says:


    LOL, tennis anyone?

  8. Rajini Rao says:


    Green balls are the fruit of the Solanum species. What are the big white shells?

  9. Rajini Rao says:


    How would you read her expression, peering into that bower there? Cautiously curious?

  10. Rajini Rao says:


    Well, knock me down with a feather ’cause they are indeed white snail shells, Feisal Kamil ! I did a google search on snail shells and bowerbirds, and sure enough, they are favorites of the birdbrained bachelor pad.

  11. Rajini Rao says:


    Cowrys for dowry, lol!


  12. Rajini Rao have you seen this? It’s one of my favourite clips from this series – Life – The Vogelkop Bowerbird: Nature’s Great Seducer – BBC One


  13. Whoops I just realized you have already linked that – ignore my previous comment!

  14. Rajini Rao says:


    Hi Buddhini Samarasinghe ! I did link to this video in my post ..yeah, I know it’s TL;DR πŸ˜‰

  15. Chad Haney says:


    I hate to use the same joke again, but when you start your post with Boudoir, someone has to mention The Continental. (http://goo.gl/MtZnc ). 1:42, I’m about to put your coat in the boudoir… please my palomino of the Russian Steppes.


    Wait until the bowerbirds start making man caves.

  16. Rajini Rao says:


    It’s an awesome video..BBC always does things thoroughly.

  17. Chad Haney says:


    I β™₯ this compilation of BBC One’s Walk on the Wild Side.


    British Animal Voiceovers

  18. Rajini Rao says:


    Chad Haney , that was hilarious..had not seen it before. Smarminess done to perfection..he should have tried green balls and snail shells for better luck πŸ™‚

  19. Rajini Rao says:


    As for the Animal Voiceovers, simply adorable! Where do you find these, Chad Haney πŸ™‚

  20. Chad Haney says:


    I got my niece and nephew to imitate, “Day time, night time” from the BBC clip.

  21. Rajini Rao says:


    That bit I’ve seen in an animated gif πŸ™‚

  22. finch wench says:


    I would not write that “they effectively select for genotypes.” They are selecting for a phenotype maybe, but it is not known (at least authors did not know) whether that greener hue is strictly genetic or the result of epigenetic interaction effects too. Strangely, two cultivars can have the same genome. Stranger still (to me, at least), individuals recognized to be of a single cultivar might not be genetically identical.

  23. Rajini Rao says:


    While the authors of this study did not look at the genetics of chroma and hue in this particular case, finch wench , there are other studies linking these phenotypes to genotypes, e.g., ion transporters that regulate salt and pH alter flower color, as in the purple gene that my group works on. Mutations in this gene changes hue from purple to blue. Quantification of carotenoids, phenolics and other traits associated with hue can be plotted on dendrograms and linked to genotypes across many dozen cultivars and hybrids of apricots, for example.


    Epigenetic changes are possible too..although, in this case, the birds are selecting fruit from elsewhere (that already have the desired chroma), and bringing them to the bower site, so the local environment is not responsible for modulating gene expression (which is the basis for epigenetics as I understand it).

  24. finch wench says:


    Rajini Rao, I am not arguing fervently that the hue and chroma are not completely heritable (they could be, in this case); however, I am not sure that we can confidently rule out local environmental effects without transferring seeds from the fruit hand- bill-picked by bowerbirds to a plot >300 m away from the bower and measuring color of the “transplants.” Or I wonder if there was a hue gradient in the cultivated fruit with respect to age of the bower. Maybe surface treatment (in addition to clearing of leaf litter) could be involved? For example, the greener fruits may also be those that respond well to bowerbird “fertilizer” (I do not know how those gents handle the “facilities” at their studios of seduction) πŸ™‚

  25. Rajini Rao says:


    All wonderful points! LOL on the gent’s “powder room” facilities πŸ™‚

  26. Abi Malar says:


    s of course. gardening is really a wonderful job. nice info.


  27. Rajini Rao Have always found the different Bower Bird nests fascinating.. Thanks for the added insight!

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