Birds and Art

August 09, 2010, 09:35 am  Posted by needlearts

I’ve read that human culture arose out of the competition for sex and I’ve always found the idea appealing (no pun intended). It pretty much explains why lead singers get all the girls.

I couldn’t help but link this bit of random trivia to an article I read in a recent National Geographic about bowerbirds. They’re pretty cool little birds. Turns out, that in order to attract chicks (and by chicks I mean female bowerbirds), male bowerbirds build elaborate twig structures called bowers…aka birdie love shacks. And here’s the charming part—they not only design the bowers, they decorate them with the flotsom and jetsum of the forest: nuts, berries, leaves, bugs, toy soldiers. You name it. Anything that adds a bit of color and shape to the bower. Some bowerbirds even paint the interiors, with berry juice. Each bower is unique and reflects the sensibility of its designer.

Here are a few more examples from  flickr…

Which one would you date?

To find out more about sexual selection in human evolution, look up Geoffrey Miller or Tor Norretranders.


22 Responses

    Valerie says:


    I loved this article (you probably know I'm a birder). Thanks for the additional imagery.

    Beth says:

    I think my heart just broke a little bit. This is so amazing! And beautiful! And–are you listening, John Krasinsky?–exactly what woos those of us with an appreciation for nature art.

    Serouisly!? Wow, some of the human species could take a hint here! Unbelievable. I can imagine that each bird has their own favorite color–from the simple greys and browns to blend with nature to the last looking like my living room—early-American-everything!

    Rodin's Muse says:

    So cool how they segregate by color! Very appealing…

    Connie says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us, it is amazing what these birds do!!

    Gavin says:

    Megan – A few days before your post I saw an awesome TV show about an artist who has traveled to Indonesia for years to paint bower birds. Her name is Mary Jo McConnell. I had never heard of bower birds before the show, and now they're popping up everywhere. Is it a sign?
    Here's a link to Mary Jo's art: http://www.mjmcconnellart.com/creation/bowers/b
    She also blogs at: http://mjmcconnellart.blogspot.com/

    marcy says:

    Truly amazing, I had no idea these existed. Thanks for sharing.

    bernie wolf says:

    Thanks for reminding us that we (humans) are not the only creators of beauty. I have seen animals create design but the selection/arrangement of color is so exciting! This is added inspiration as I design my new home.

    Chris says:

    I'd take the aerosol can bird. He would be very strong.

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