Cheap Taste? Bowerbirds go for bargain decor

10:20am, January 14, 2004

When male spotted bowerbirds collect sticks and other doodads to wow females, these natural interior decorators don't search for the rare showpiece, according to a new study.

Biologists have wondered whether male bowerbirds try to show off rare or costly treasures, says Joah R. Madden of the University of Cambridge in England. However, in recent tests of male preference in ornaments and their availability, no fancy tastes showed up, he and Andrew Balmford of University of Sheffield in England report in an upcoming Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Items most appealing to females in earlier tests also turned out to be commonplace.

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