A piece by David Attenborough on the radio the other day was the first I’d heard of the Vogelkop bowerbird in Papua New Guinea. This amazing bird creates a lawn of moss in front of its already impressive nest, and lays out objects on it to attract females. These vary from bird to bird – piles of red leaves, beetles’ wings or deer droppings covered with fungi with a bluish sheen (the last apparently highly successful). They endlessly rearrange every bit of fungus or berry for the perfect display.
The females shop around and choose their mate on the basis of the best bower. As Attenborough explained, if you want a chance of filming it mating, you first have to decide which is the best nest to stake out. Luckily, the Vogelkop and humans turn out to have surprisingly similar aesthetic tastes.
You can hear more about filming the Vogelkop here, in an episode of Nature which also features its weird vocal duels.