Human Flower Project
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Flowers for ‘The Other Wren’
Among one group of Australian songbirds, flower-giving is a cheatin’ thing.
Male fairy wren (Malurus splendens musgravi) with a petal for his mistress
Photo: Grame Chapman
If your partner hasn’t brought you flowers in awhile – or ever – take heart. He may be a purple crowned fairy-wren.
Most fairy wrens, male and female, are renowned for their infidelity. Pairs put on a good front; they raise their young together and together defend the home territory for life. But nosy researchers who’ve tested the genetics of their progeny have discovered that most of their offspring are “illegitimate.” Also, spying human eyes have caught male fairy-wrens taking off to “court” other females, several others in a day.
To turn on the “other wrens,” males have evolved glitzy blue attire and come-ons, including “presentation of flower petals during courtship displays.”
But recently, scholars at the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology in Germany and the University of Freiburg have found one “unqiuely faithful species,” among these Austraian songbirds.