Visual SquirrelsVisual Squirrels

Architecture Sculpture Zoology

The art, design and architecture of birds

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Bower of Vogelkop bowerbird (credit: Tim Laman / naturepl.com)

Bower of Vogelkop bowerbird (credit: Tim Laman / naturepl.com)

Satin-Bower-Bird-Nest

What is architecture? What is design? What is art?

Conscious choices. Some kind of cognitive processes that says “naaah. that doesn’t work” or “fabfunfantastic!”

That is what bowerbirds do. I came across them for the first time as a child. A newspaper we subscribed to used to run a small “interesting-facts from the natural-world” section in a hidden corner. It had a few grainy, black and white sketch-like illustrations and all of four paragraphs of text. Anyway. I still remember the story of the bower birds; how the male builds a complicated house, tunnel or bower and decorates it with coloured found bits. All to impress the ladies. Bottle tops, shells, flowers, bits of plastic.

I was astonished (I was seven). That the stuff we people have, make and throw out, are reused by other species, and in such a deliberately artful way. A bird building a structure that is only for courtship. It is not a nest. The building and decorating; it is so deliberate, so considered. The male will fuss and fiddle with each straw, each bottle top, each clothes pin until he finds it to his standard of perfection.

And here is the doozy: some of these structures use forced perspective. Basically, by arranging things in relation to size proportions end up as an optical illusion. The attention of the female is held longer, and the male looks bigger and better.

Bower bird hut

Bower bird hut

Pretty much the definition of art, design and architecture.

Bower bird hut

Bower bird hut

Bower bird hut

Bower bird hut

benteh

“Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is”. All-round nerd with a tendency to poke things with a stick to see what happens. Doodler, artist, bookbinder, photographer, illustrator, graphic designer, web developer.

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