Friday, February 13, 2015

Rerun Article: How Birds Say, "I Love You."

Valentine's Day is tomorrow! Time for love, chocolate, flowers and cards. Nice, right? Today's article is a rerun from a couple of years ago, but if you haven't read it already, I would also suggest reading last week's, which digs into the history of Valentine's Day. It's pretty interesting stuff.

Days till:
It is: 1 days till Valentine's Day
It is: 3 days till President's Day
It is: 32 days till St. Patrick's Day

In the Spotlight:
The Masrani Global Corporation website has updated once again, this time to give us some detail on a division of the InGen company called InGen Security. They are responsible for keeping Jurassic World (the theme park) safe from obvious threats. The head of this operation is Vic Hoskins. Much to my delight, the website also reveals that Hoskins and his team of security officers were responsible for dealing with the escaped Pteranodons that flew from Isla Sorna in 2001! I was always wondering what happened to those pterosaurs, and I finally know! You can check out the website provided by the link above and watch the video from the website about InGen Security down below:

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
Valentine’s Day is here! Love is in the air for many. I don’t know about you, but some people do some pretty strange things to attract the “object of desire”. However these strange things people do is nothing compared to what amazing lengths animals go to attract a mate, birds in particular. Birds have a number of ways to attract members of the opposite sex. Normally, it is the male who does the attracting and unlike humans, is normally the most colorful and vibrant of the two genders. So this Valentine’s Day, lend an ear as we explore “Love in the World of Birds” (or perhaps I should have said, “Lend a pair of eyes” considering you are reading)!

One of the most popular of all birds can be found in South East Asia where it will do an amazing display of color to attract a female. We all know what this bird is – the peacock! This bird, also known as the peafowl has a thing for style. Did you know that there are three different species of peacocks? They are:

Green Peacock
Congo Peacock
Indian Peacock
While the Green and Congo Peacocks are interesting, they aren’t what we normally think of when you hear peacock, so I’ll just stick with the Indian Peacock today, the most elaborate of the peacock genus. You might already know that it is the male peacocks that have that beautiful fan of feathers on their tails. But did you know that much of the male peacocks coloration does not come from pigment? That’s right! Their feathers are actually iridescent. This means that the beautiful colors are made when light hits the feathers and bounces off of them and into the eyes of the observer. So in the dark, both male and female peacocks (called peahens) are dull colored, but in the light, the male can be seen in shades of blues and greens. Females are normally a mixture of dull greens, browns and grays.

A male peacock in a tree; yes, they CAN fly!
When a male peacock is in the mood for love, he really knows how to strut his stuff – he fans out that beautiful fan (called a “train”) endowed with hundreds of iridescent “eyes”. Then with his train open wide, he will strut and prance around and sometimes will turn around to display his tail. And if the female isn’t paying much attention (which is more often than not), he simply calls to her. Sometimes to woo her into being his mate, a male peacock will display his tail over some food to get her into a form of courtship feeding. The peacock’s tail, while not only attractive, can also be used to direct the sound of a male’s voice toward a female’s ears because of its satalite dish-like shape. Cool, huh? And if that’s not enough, the peacock also uses its tail to warn its mates and young that danger is nearby before flying up to the nearest tree. While both Indian and Green peacocks are believed to be polygamous, it has been suggested by some that the Green peacock is actually monogamous.

A male peacock courting a peahen. Do you think she's impressed?
A mother peahen with her chicks
You can hardly tell it now, but yes, this little guy is a peacock chick!
If peacocks are some of the most beautiful birds, then the Sage Grouse takes the second place prize for the Weirdest Courtship Displays (second only to Birds of Paradise, which I’ll talk about later). The Sage Grouse is the largest grouse in North America and when they are in the mood for love, they let everybody know about it – with sounds! Male and female Sage Grouse will gather in groups, called leks, in open clearings and begin to strut. Like peacocks, they also fan out their tail feathers but they aren’t as long as those of the peacock. Then to attract females who are nearby, the males will begin to inflate two large sacks on their chests. These two sacks produce a sound that sounds like a high-pitched bouncy ball. With every sound, the sacks bounce. While the sound may sound silly to us, female Sage Grouse can’t resist a male with a fine singing voice. Only the most successful males get to mate, and normally there are only two successful males per lek.

A male Sage Grouse, see the two yellow sacks on his chest?
To see a visual display of the Sage Grouse, click on the video below:

Some birds get real noisy to attract mates. Others just get plain showy. When a male Frigatebird wants to attract the love of his life, he pours his heart out – almost literally! These birds live by the ocean in large groups and males of the species don’t look like anything special; in fact, they are almost identical to the females except that females have white chest feathers and light blue-colored beaks, while the beaks and chest feathers of males are black. When an attractive female flies by a male sitting in either a tree or on a cliff, he will inflate a loose patch of skin on the throat. When inflated, it almost looks like a big red heart! (When I was little, I used to think the pouch was caused when the Frigatebird swallowed a strawberry!) After his sweetheart sees a male she likes, she will fly down to him and they start the courtship process. Frigatebirds are monogamous creatures and are great parents. Both parents will faithfully care for their single chick for a full three months until it’s ready to go out on its own. When the next breeding season comes, Frigatebirds choose a new mate. But I don’t think finding a new mate is ever a challenge for these birds – what female Frigatebird can resist a male with a big heart?

A few male Frigatebirds with their pouches inflated
A Frigatebird couple. "What a big pouch you have!" says the female. "The better to woo you with my dear," says the male.
A male Frigatebird with a BIG pouch

Little Huts in the Woods

This image came from here

This image came from here
This image came from here
Who do you think made these huts? Animal lovers who wanted to make a home for some birds? Nope. No human hands touched these huts. In the Bible, it is made clear that love is not an emotion, but rather an action (and the sentimental feeling we from someone we love is the result of real love). You can read an excellent passage about love in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. The aptly named Bowerbird seems to follow this love-as-action rule (even though birds don’t feel love like humans do). When the breeding season for bowerbirds comes around, males get really creative. While the male bowerbird doesn’t look like a very special bird, looks aren’t important when they want to attract a mate. Instead, they make a bower of love. Depending on the species, male bowerbirds will look around their forest home (in Australia and New Guinea) for certain materials to make a bower. Today we will focus on two species of bowerbirds: the Satin Bowerbird (pronounced sat-in) and the Vogelkop bowerbird (pronounced FOH-gull-kop). Both species are unique in their own ways. The Vogelkop bowerbird makes one of the most extravagant bowers. While the bower itself looks no different from its neighbors’, each bowerbird adds unique arrangements to their own bowerbird. Some go for a berry-style bower, others for flowers and leaves, and others for pebbles, shiny beetles or deer dung, and some like the trash we humans leave behind.

A Vogelkop Bowerbird observing a bower (this image came from this link)
Satin bowerbirds have a blue tint in their feathers; perhaps this is why they’re blue for the color blue. They will put a variety of objects in and surrounding the bower – as long as their blue! These items can consist of things in nature such as feathers or berries and on the not-so-natural side, plastic caps, paperclips and even car keys! (So if you ever go to Australia, be careful what you put on the ground!) And if that’s not enough, they will even mash up little plant bits and after mixing it with saliva, “paint” the newly made mixture on the walls of the inside of the bower! (Guys, don’t try this at home, human females don’t like a paint made in this way as much as bowerbird females do) Talk about DIY!

A male Satin Bowerbird

A female Satin Bowerbird
But in the end, it’s the female bowerbird that chooses which male she mates with. When a female comes by, a male will sing a little “love song” to his potential mate and if she likes the sound, she will come down and inspect the bower. If she likes the bower, she will mate with the hard-working male and if not, she flies off and continues the search. After mating, the female flies off to make a nest while the male revises his bower to hopefully suit the next female that passes by.

The Satin Bowerbird goes blue for blue! 
Birds-of-Paradise is a group of birds that are perhaps some of the strangest dancers in the bird world. Males and females are vastly different from each other – females are drab-colored and feathered while males have elaborate feathers and feather patterns. There are many species of Birds-of-Paradise and each species has many different dances they use to attract a mate. Take the Parotia, nicknamed the “six-plumed birds of paradise” because they have six quills on their heads. On the males, the ornamental plumage consists of the six head plumes with black oval-shaped tips, a black collar around the neck, decomposed feathers that can be spread out around the bird like a ballerina’s skirt. When they are in the mood for love, they will twirl around and around like a ballerina in an area where the bird has cleared of leaves. It might also hop from one foot or bob its head from side to side. Apparently, this funny dance gets the ladies attention.

The Six-Plumed Bird of Paradise likes to spin around like a ballerina to attract mates (this image came from here)

Birds of all shapes and sizes dance around to attract mates whenever their breeding seasons arrive. Evolutionists will tell you that these birds evolved another type of animal. Their ideas change as so-called new “evidence” is found, but for the moment, they believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Now, we have no evidence for feathered dinosaurs, so where on earth did birds get their beautiful courtship displays from? (The dinosaurs-to-bird idea is very extensive, so I’ll save this for another day) Evolutionists have no idea. Even Charles Darwin, the evolutionist of evolutionists said to Asa Gray that “. . . [the] sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!” Evolutionists can’t tell us where on earth these amazingly designed birds evolved their displays from.

However, the Bible has the answer. In the first chapter of Genesis (Genesis 1:20-22), it says that God created birds on the fifth day of the week God used to create everything. Dinosaurs meanwhile were created on the sixth day of the Creation week along with the other land animals (Genesis 1:24-25). So the reason evolutionists can’t find what animal evolved into birds that would have given them their displays is because there isn’t such an animal. God created these birds just as we find them (not counting the natural selection that occurs within a “Genesis Kind”) only about 6,000 years ago. And what amazing birds God made!

Before I end my post today, I’d like to bring up a clip from a Discovery Channel television series that I have watched called Dinosaur Revolution. While true, dinosaurs didn’t evolve into birds millions of years ago (evolution and the belief in millions of years isn’t true in the first place!), it doesn’t rule out that dinosaurs didn’t have feathers. We just don’t have evidence for feathered dinosaurs! If dinosaurs had feathers, they could have used them to attract mates. So on this Valentine’s Day, lets watch a dramatic depiction of a male Gigantoraptor as he tries to win the heart of a female of the same species (I bet you’ve never seen a dinosaur dancing to Spanish-styled music!). Will she be impressed? Or will she ditch him for another male? Only one way to find out:

Have a HAPPY VALENTINE'S Day Everyone!

Disclaimer: Many (or in some cases all) of the photographs and images above are not mine. If you own one or more of them and would like them to be removed, please kindly let me know.

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