By Joan Larsen
The love lives of birds really hadn’t been one of my greatest interests in life. But on our expeditions to my favorite places in the southern hemisphere of our world – like Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and some pretty unknown islands that abound down there – we were guided down trails in the wildest terrain, with promises that we would see the most flamboyant mating performances by some of the most beautiful birds on earth.
We were stunned, watching unbelievingly at the over-the-top mating dances, as we saw a stunning resemblance to human male-female behavior before our eyes. Perhaps it was just my own observation. I will let you watch for yourselves.
The male of the species is meant to look good, be very fit, and breed. The females are not looking for a long-term relationship. However, they want only the best genes for their babies. They are very fussy — as you will see. Do remember, the first year young females are frequently “scared”, startled by the male’s spirited song and dance. . . with predictable results. They back off. But after a few encounters with the most amazing displays they have ever seen, they become enchanted.
I have watched the first short video more than once. You may want to as well, as this male six-plumed bird-of-paradise tidies up his performance ground, scrubbing the twigs he is going to dance on, knowing the female is watching, attracted by how fastidious he is for her. Every little bit counts – as we ladies know.
And now below we see the magnificent riflebird, doing a seductive flamenco dance that seems to dazzle the female he has attracted. We are left to guess if she is going to stick around for the finale. If not, there are other females looking from afar. This male, a real bird around town, has high hopes as well for the days ahead.
The King Bird-of-Paradise (below) is, to me, far more beautiful. Smaller in size, more striking in color – with two sparkling green disks that hang from threads but can be maneuvered with ease – gives him a touch of class. He may be less impressive on the dance floor, but this male provoked the ohhs and ahhs from our group big time!
Going to Australia and New Zealand has to be a “must” on every world traveler’s itinerary. However, birds never dreamed of, birds never seen before are so unique, so stunning, that they soon become part of what makes these countries so very special. You will find it becomes part of the allure.
It may be Fall in the northern hemisphere, but down there it is Spring. The birdsongs are starting to fill the air. The tunes can be so pretty that it’s easy to forget what the soundtrack is all about:
The birds and the bees.
You will travel in a land of marvels.
– Jules Verne
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”