Bird Intelligence -- The Bower Bird
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Do you think bird minds are stereotyped, robotic, or unoriginal?  Then meet the Bowerbird.

Males construct elaborate "bowers" from carefully selected objects the birds find interesting -- including bottle caps, butterfly wings, blue jewelry or carefully arranged twigs.  The males have a clear mental picture of their display, and if objects are disturbed while the bird is away, the male will feverishly re-arrange the bower to its original form.  Each bower is a wholly original work of art built and carefully maintained for one purpose: to impress a female.

She is an art-critic who chooses fittest mates by assessing their creative talents -- and understanding her judgment is the key to understanding bowerbird evolution.


Interestingly -- young females are attracted to flashy bowers, while more experienced females tend to study the courtship dance.  (Think of a young woman preferring a guy with a fast sports car, and an older woman being attracted to a man with good manners.)  Evolution has also made the male bowerbird rather plain in appearance -- artistic bowers have come to serve as a better sexual advertisement than fancy feathers.  The style and qualities of bowers depend upon local fashion trends or population location -- suggesting there is a cultural component at work. Jealous birds will wreck each other's bowers and steal prized objects from one another to improve their chances of getting a mate -- but consider the nobility of their cause.  Like the great poets, they live only by virtue of their esthetic sensibility

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