Courtship among birds-of-paradise evolving

The go-to attractions for the male birds-of-paradise (extravagant feather ornaments, complex calls, and dance) are not sufficient for them to attract a mate.

Russel Ligon, postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, suggests looks are not the main point of evaluation for females. They also evaluate behaviors such as singing and dancing. These behaviors are part of the combination of traits in a male that researchers are calling a “courtship phenotype.”

This multi-factored evaluation of male birds-of-paradise suggests males could potentially evolve desired new features while maintaining overall attractiveness to females. New research shows these female preferences could relate to whether a male does his courting on the ground or elevated in trees.

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Read more about the NSF-funded work here.