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Female blue-footed boobies pick mates by the blueness of their feet and the darker the blue, the better chance for copulation. Free use photo

Exploring Nature: Bird Arousal

Sunday, December 2, 2018

It’s hard to tell what will arouse a female bird and cause her to mate.

A female peahen looks long and hard at the tail feathers of the male peacock. If they are bright with lots of colorful circles, she is much impressed. Take away that showy tail and she is completely turned off.

Male blue-footed boobies are judged by the blueness of their feet. They will lift them up and spread out the webbing to impress the female. The darker the blue, the better chance for copulation. No blue – no bliss.

Female birds of paradise judge suitors by their dancing ability. A courting male will hop, skip and jump around to display his bright feathers to full advantage.

An indication of how important color is to the love life of birds can be found in red-winged blackbirds. The male bird sports vivid scarlet epaulettes edging to bright yellow. The female judges the male by the brightness of these colors and when scientists temporarily blacked out the color on a male bird, the females ignored him completely.

It’s possible human females sometimes judge males by their attire. Perhaps a lovely cashmere coat and some well-shined shoes add to the male’s allure. Or maybe not.