Die Bauwerke der Laubenvögel

Anmerkungen zum Kompensationsprinzip
Jahrbuch für Goetheanismus 2017, 2017, P.167-204 | DOI: 10.18756/jfg.2017.167


The constructions of bower birds — remarks on the principle of compensation

The bowerbirds of New Guinea and Australia build laborious bowers and decorate the courtship sites around them. The artistic arrangement is unique in the bird world. Just as the males of the closer related birds of paradise display their splendid plumage, the male bowerbirds present their ricth adorned bowers. In the sense of the Goethean principle of compensation, the males of both groups of birds have freed themselves from the task of raising young. Bowerbird males don't deploy their architectonic skills to build a fine nest for the females. Furthermore, among the bower birds of the genus Amblyomis, the males of species with only simple colouring make more complex bowers than do the males of the coloured species. This corresponds in an elegant way to the compensation principle, even if a male of the uniformly brown Vogelkop Bowerbird (Amblyomis inornata) displays in front of a female with a coloured berry in its bill. The coloured berry can so to speak be described as a secondary sexual characteristic. This applies particularly to the maypole-builders Which can also be described as gardeners. Bowerbird males of the splendidly coloured so-callcd avenue-builders also hold coloured berries or other deeorative articles in their bills during their courtship displays. Therefore we should not generalise from one particular attractive behaviour. Besides it is common among avenuc-builders that the males paint their bowers a little with a blend of colours to whose usability they actively contribute. As this tentative painting of the bower is done by both simply coloured and brilliantly coloured males, we likewise cannot consider it in the sense of the compensation principlc, but we can regard it as an extraordinarily artistic intensification of bower construction.


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