ODIMBAR (One Day I Might Be A Raptor) was not here on 5 April 2017, but had set up his court by 14 April. From behaviour we have considered that he is newly adult-fledged, but he could be an older bird who has shifted his court. It is autumn and the courting that dominates reporting on bowerbirds is not due till spring.

As we begin this blog on 16 April 2017, we already have our hearts in our mouths, concerned that this new family member outside our suburban bedroom window will survive the competition and that his court may thrive. His day is busy: hunting, building, learning, asserting, defending, charming, singing, raucous caucusing and dancing.

And the evidence before us, of daily life, is much more complex than what one usually reads or views on Youtube, of isolated males building bowers in spring to try to entice picky females with whom their relations are fleeting. It's not like that at all here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

dancing boys and girls plus destruction and rebuilding

OF COURSE, some of the most interesting things happen when the camera is not in place, as on a recent Saturday morning when we observed from our window a green bird dancing for a green bird five metres from the bower and then realised that at the bower a black mature bird was dancing for a black mature bird. Oh how modern is that!

I've not put anything here for several weeks, having been writing a journal article on Korean issues.

I've also been distracted by reading Peter Godfrey-Smith's Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life, (2016) where he notes that pigeons, if given a task with one eye masked, do not know how to perform it when the mask is swapped to the other eye [p1048 of 3690, electronic version]. In other words, their eyes have separate brain systems. Moreover [p1070 of 3690] there are red and yellow portions of each eye's vision (in pigeons) that look to the front and the side... and the two different parts of one eye don't talk to each other.

It is evident from political debate and non-debate here that we may be as evolved as pigeons, though pigeons may demur.

But to get back to the naturally bird-brained... I have to wonder about bowerbird vision and the pattern of the dance being for the bird in the bower to see primarily with left eye. The speculation of the Borgia group at U Maryland is that this is an evolved dance hall pattern that saves the female from rape. But perhaps it involves something in their vision instead or as well.

BUT MERCIFULLY, OR ANYWAY we did catch two interesting three minute clips on 14 May, in which firstly, a mature male is seen yanking the bower apart... and then 20 minutes later, Odimbar is back and swiftly rebuilding, venting a bit of irritation on a hapless Wonga Pigeon just trying to feel good in the rain.

There is of course another possible explanation – that the one bird took down his structure to improve it... But then the destroyer also stole a bottletop.

Then at the end a very short clip after Odimbar has done his rebuild, in which he lets out a great yell to tell the world that this is his domain!

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