Language Instincts: Advertising sex

From October 24, 2006

…bird sex, that is.

Male birds will do some pretty bizarre things in the name of sex. Here are some examples of displays put on by males in order to advertise their quality to potential mates (all the clips are from David Attenborough’s “Life of Birds” series for the BBC).

The superb lyrebird of Australia builds a small mound in the forest and sings a complex tune combining his own songs with songs (and noises) that he picks up from his environment:

Superb Lyrebird

The birds of paradise of Papua New Guinea are a strange bunch. Here are some clips of the extraordinary visual displays performed by these males:

Birds of Paradise

Wilson’s bird of paradise also has a very strange pattern of ornamental plumage (this video is also hilarious because of Attenborough’s sneaky hiding places):

Wilson’s Bird of Paradise

More to come on the topic of sexual signaling soon!