Thursday, June 02, 2005
I learned a new word on Nova the other night. A bower is a display made by a male bird, of any number of species, intended to attract the female bird. They are usually on the ground, most often made of groups of things in one color, and they often make a little entryway out of twigs. Some birds collected berries all in one color, some collected bones. They tend to be in flat arrangements, not piles, and have also been made of beetle casings, blossoms, trash (still artfully arranged), and leaves. (However, at least one bird is very particular about his arrangement, and if you turn a leaf face down he will return and turn it back face up.) The birds have to be vigilant about their bowers or other birds will pillage. And if the bower is not as successful, they may have to go as far as displaying the tops of their colorful heads to the female to do the trick. Other, more colorful birds, make less impressive bowers because they themselves are colorful enough. The bowers are like bird art installations; very Andy Goldsworthy, although now that I’ve seen this I realize it’s clearly the other way around. Once again proving that we are not so different from our bird kin.