Bowerbirds

Bowerbirds are a family of birds consisting of 20 species native to Australia and New Zeeland. They seem to have a knack for decorating. At least the males do.

Male bowerbirds build structures called “bowers” with sticks and grass for the mating season. One type called a “maypole bower” is constructed by putting sticks around a sapling tree and sometimes covering it with a hut-like roof. Others construct an “avenue bower” with two rows of sticks placed vertically. In either case, they decorate the bowers with any brightly-colored objects they can find. The decorations may be glass, shells, flowers, feathers, berries, or any discarded plastic object.

Sometimes in addition to colorful decorations, the males will even create some optical illusions with stick arrangements. The bowerbird may spend hours arranging his masterpiece until he is satisfied. When the male is satisfied, the females come to make their inspections. A female may visit several bowers until she finally chooses the one she likes best. By selecting the bower, she is selecting her mate.

Scientists have proposed several evolutionary models to explain this bowerbird behavior. None of the proposed models are fully accepted by all who have studied these birds. We suggest that bowerbirds were designed by the Creator of all life, who enjoys creativity.
© Roland Earnst

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