Shake your tail feath­ers

Plumage that gets birds no­ticed

World of Animals - - Contents - Words Amelia Jones

With vivid colours and ex­trav­a­gant feath­ers, these birds cer­tainly know how to put on a show

in their en­er­getic courtship dis­plays

From the fancy spi­ral-shaped feath­ers of the Wil­son’s bird-of-par­adise, to the iri­des­cent eye-pat­terned feath­ers of the pea­cock, for most birds it’s all about looks when it comes to find­ing a mate. While feath­ers are tra­di­tion­ally used for flight and to trap pock­ets of air close to the bird’s body to keep it warm, sev­eral species have adapted some ex­tra­or­di­nary feath­ers, which they use to show off dur­ing the breed­ing sea­son.

Courtship dis­plays of­ten in­volve dances or rit­u­alised move­ments and vo­cal­i­sa­tions, which em­pha­sise the bird’s fit­ness, strength and beauty to a po­ten­tial part­ner. These ex­tremely in­tense dis­plays re­quire a lot of en­ergy and are per­formed by males to at­tract the at­ten­tion of a fe­male, so it is no sur­prise that (for all but one species) it is only the males who boast these show­stop­ping feath­ers.

Whether its wag­ging their feath­ers back and forth like the turquoise-browed mot­mot, flip­ping them up over­head like the su­perb lyre­bird, or fly­ing with them drap­ing down like the long-tailed wid­ow­bird, these birds will go to ex­treme lengths – in some cases lit­er­ally – to dis­play their suit­abil­ity as a mate. These per­form­ers de­mand cen­tre stage.

In­dIan peafowl

Pavo crista­tus

Class Aves

Ter­ri­tory Na­tive: Bangladesh, Bhutan, In­dia, Nepal, Pak­istan and Sri Lanka

In­tro­duced: Aus­tralia, the Ba­hamas, Hawaii, New Zealand,

diet Frogs, lizards, snakes, in­sects, worms, flow­ers, nuts, seeds, leaves, roots and grains life­span 10–25 years

adult weight 2.7–6kg

(6–13.2Ib)

Con­ser­va­tion Sta­tus

LEAST CON­CERN

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