Birds grow a garden to attract a mate

What has green fingers but no hands? The bowerbird, if a new study is to be believed. Males appear to cultivate plants around the structures they build to attract a mate.

Male spotted bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus maculates) build structures, or bowers, from twigs before intricately decorating them with objects to attract a female. One of the males’ most desirable decorations is the berry of the Solanum ellipticum plant.

Although the males didn’t build their bowers in locations with abundant S. ellipticum, a year after construction there were, on average, 40 of the plants near each. It seems the males may discard shrivelled berries outside their bowers which subsequently sprout and grow.

The bowerbirds are thus shaping the distribution of the plants in the area. Learn more here.

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