Seems a little
contradictory that the female of the human species is usually the dressier
one when in most of the animal kingdom the male gets that distinction.
Now among animals, the reason is pretty clear. The female needs to be
inconspicuous so she can protect and hide her babies. All the showier
dressing among humans can't be explained quite as easily. It is my opinion
that because women were considered property of their husband for so
many years, they got used to being decorated to show off how rich hubby
One of the flashiest
male critters around here is the cardinal. (Peacocks don't count `cause
they're not native.) The perky red birds live here all year round and
really stand out against the cedar trees. A friend of mine has one that
must be the vainest bird alive.
On the back side
of her house there is a sliding glass door that opens onto the patio.
A small oak tree grows on the patio edge and hangs over the door. Shortly
after they moved in, they discovered a male cardinal had taken residence
on a branch of that tree where he could see himself in the door. At
first, they thought he was sitting there thinking his reflection was
another male trying to invade his territory. He did fly at the glass
once or twice but most of the time he just sat there, looking at his
reflection. How do they know he's looking at his reflection? He only
sits on the branch when the light is right to see himself.
Now the odd behavior
of this bird would just be a funny to tell the neighbors and show the
grandkids if the darn bird didn't get so upset when you open the door
or change the lighting. He flies at you! He scolds and fusses. And when
he isn't protesting, he messes on the patio. Now my friend and her husband
tried several things to get that bird to leave. The threw things at
him. They hung up wind chimes. They tried keeping the curtains closed.
He persisted. Finally, while unpacking, my friend found a large owl
candle. They rigged a shelf on the top of the door and there they placed
the candle. It worked! The cardinal thought it was his enemy, the predator
owl. Last I heard, the bird had decided that the oak by the patio was
too dangerous a place to roost.
Now I've never
had a problem with cardinals here on Sulfur Creek, but we were entertained
by a family of them one year. The crew were feeding birds under the
oaks out back that spring. A pair of cardinals would come and feed along
with several other birds. As summer approached, the cardinals began
to bring their young to the feeding area. One little male was especially
fun to watch. He would sit on the tree watching while his siblings and
parents fed. Occasionally the mother or father bird would fly up and
seem to encourage him to come down. Finally, he would venture on to
the dangerous ground, but he never was too sure. The entire time he
was feeding, his wings would be partially extended, fluttering. We named
him Flutter and I had to keep the crew from scaring him deliberately.
Just based on looks, a full grown cardinal male may have reason to be
a little proud but not as vain as my friend's bird.
There is a bird
here on Sulfur Creek that has every reason to be very vain, but that's
1986,1996 by Sulfur Creek Enterprises, Austin, Texas