Don't forget beauty

Don't forget beauty

An ornithologist argues that arbitrary preferences may have a place in the bird world

By Elizabeth Quill, 15:45 PM November 8, 2010

In an effort to attract choosy females, male birds don vibrant feathers, sing complex melodies and perform attention-grabbing displays. There’s great variety among the males within a species, with some colors being brighter, songs sweeter and performances more pompous.

Among biologists, the prevailing paradigm is that some male traits are downright better than others, indicating reproductive fitness to the female. A suitor with a deep red glow, for instance, may have a better diet, thus be...

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