Friday, May 25, 2007

First let me say, I didn't take any of these pictures myself.
If a subject is moving at all I can't take a good picture.

One thing I love about visiting my parents in Florida
is all the different kinds of birds they have down south.
Maybe because I don't see them up here in the north
they seem more exotic.

As we were swinging in the swing out on the back patio tonight, Sean and I saw several different birds in the trees. It got me to thinking, hey we have some very beautiful birds here and we saw the most colorful tonight.

It got me thinking, (my mind never stops) why are the male birds
so much more colorful and better looking than the females? Take the cardinal
for example. The male is a brilliant red and is a stand out no matter where
he's perched. The female, well she's much more subdued. She blends in
where ever she goes. We have a bird feeder filled with black sunflower seeds.
The cardinals (and Chipmunks) love them. We have a pair of cardinals that
visit every morning and evening. The male always eats first, the female is no where
in sight. When he is done, the female flies in to eat. The male waits for her in
the tree by the feeder and shews away any other birds that wants to eat.

We have many goldfinches in the backyard. There's a niger seed mesh feeder that gets a lot of traffic. Sometimes there are 6 or 7 birds feeding with more waiting in the dogwood tree for their turn. The males are bright sunshine yellow while the females are somewhat of a putrid greenish brown color.

My favorite and the most elusive is the Baltimore Oriole. The male is a very flashy bird, bright orange and black. Tonight we had a male and female in the weeping cherry tree. I was thrilled.
The blue jay, another looker, is a rather mean and aggressive bird. They don't share well at all and chase other birds away from the feeder. I couldn't find a picture of a female but I'm sure she's quite drab compared to the male.

I did some checking about this subject and found that the females are the ones attracted to the bright colors. The males couldn't care less about the looks of the females. Very different from the human species. There are less female birds than males and the male has to really look good and stand out so a female will choose them for their mate. The colors make them easier to see also when it comes to territory. Other males can see them and know that this area is taken.

Also birds can see more colors than humans. While humans have 3 cones in their eyes, birds have 4.


KW_KCMO said...

As I was reading this post, I was thinking that, yes, the male is made to attract the female.

There is a bird in Africa (I think) that has adapted and now picks up flashy 'trash' like bottle caps, scraps of paper, pieces of plastic, to make his hovel much more attractive to the female.