It’s a jungle out there…Of course, in Australia, it often literally was a jungle, or a rainforest at any event. But the figurative meaning of the phrase still resonates: there’s a lot of competition going on. We know about the fight for survival, the bird-eat-bird world and the fight for prime food sources and so forth. But one of the enlightening (and entertaining) aspects of observing bird behavior is watching them compete in courting.
Exhibit A: the Satin bowerbird. Here’s the bower, first picture courtesy of Janet Bauer:
The bower refers not to a nest but to a seduction zone, a piece of performance art, maintained year after year, to melt the heart of the female bowerbird. Note the blue ‘trash’ in front of the bower. For the satin bowerbird, it can only be blue, and placement is intentional. I’ve been told that if you move a piece while the bird is away, it will notice and replace the trinket in its precise former spot. In this case, the source of blue items was human trash, but don’t tell the bird that.
It visited its bower often, not infrequently deciding to add another stick.
You have to admire the effort he went to. I never saw a female observing the bower, which didn’t seem to diminish his obsessiveness about it. She does have lovely lavender eyes, which may be what bewitched him.
While at a different lodge, the proprietor told us, “The bustards are displaying!”, and gave us directions to fields about 20 minutes drive away. The bird book showed us that bustards are large birds preferring open country. In this case the open country was at a cattle ranch- the fences hemming in the cows did not constrain the birds. Here’s a female.
And here’s one displaying male:
And his competition, perhaps a bit more advanced in the art of growing chest feathers.
Not that we could see any interest shown by any of the local females. Tough world-it’s a jungle out there!