If you’ve ever had important weekend guests that you want to impress you know that decorating your place can be costly in terms of time and resources. The male bowerbird knows this all too well.
Bowerbirds are known to reuse nonbodily ornaments from years past to redecorate. Just like your Mom at Christmastime, these guys are trekking down to the basement to bring out the old stuff. This saves your family time and resources that would be spent on new stuff and presumably does the same for the bowerbird. Natalie Doerr in a recent Animal Behaviour article (click here for the link to the full paper) examined great bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis) behavior and matched up males with similar numbers of ornaments. The decorations were removed for the test male and his control counterpart kept all of his decorations. The author found, not surprisingly that the males that lost their past ornaments acquired and stole more ornaments than their control counterparts. Interestingly, there was a positive correlation between the original number of ornaments and the number obtained after removal. If males are recycling the ornaments from the past then superior males (in terms of ornaments) will compound their advantage over other males year after year making it easier for females to distinguish the best dressed nest.
If you missed the past post on bowerbirds, then check it out below.