Illusion or better home builder?

I ran across this article the other day and it got me to thinking. It’s about an Australian male bird that spends most of his time creating the perfect bower to attract a female(s) for mating. Apparently, there’s some technique to it involving optical illusions and better building practices. And trinkets. Mating dancing and preening. Further research revealed that these bowers typically run North to South, have the same dynamics to them–height and a central path. But essentially, this is a place for mating, not living.

Credit: Science/AAAS; (inset) J. J. Harrison/Creative Commons

I find this fascinating on a number of levels. The article suggests that a better arranged grotto holds the female’s attention longer than a poorly created one. Is it his stellar building technique, or other qualities? Could he be a better dancer since he’s better equipped to create this illusion?

And with such an interest in turning science fact into some kind of fiction, I tend to draw parallels with humans, or try to paint some conceptual alien species to have these traits.

Could you see it now? An alien society centered around how well males created the mating spaces, arranged for optimal visual appeal, spending all this time gathering supplies, planning for this female he’s yet to meet. He attracts her, dances with her, takes her to his place. And yet, the mating bower aka bachelor pad, is completely separate from the nesting. This society would quickly shape up to separated genders. what would a family look like? Communal living?

This entire train of thought comes down to that conflict, how do mates attract and keep one another, and what’s behind the illusions?

What animal species here on Earth would make a good model for aliens in SF?

(Purposely ignoring the idea of bugs in space, cause though I have a guilty pleasure love of Starship Troopers, um, huge bugs = ewwww)


Ella Drake is a dark paranormal and science fiction romance author. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads.

Her Science Fiction Romance, Desert Blade is coming soon from Carina Press. Currently available SFR: Silver Bound, Jaq’s Harp, Braided Silk & Firestorm on E’Terra



  1. Aww, insects need love too… 😦

    How about male seahorses with their young grown into their chest? 🙂 Or the toad with the young on his back?

    I’m still scarred from a Survival programme from the 70s where little turtles had to battle down the beach to the water’s edge, picked off in their dozens by ghost crabs… *shudder*

    So I’ve always wondered about creating societies where there is no parental instinct. You mate, you drop the eggs…and you’re off. The younglings can fend for themselves. Do the young survive in bands? Are adults aware of them, care that they exist? Or are they a nuisance, as open to attack from their own kind as from predators?

    Great post, Ella. And now I am ignoring yet more bunnies…

    1. Kim,
      It is huge bunny fodder. I have now started plotting a story around it. *head desk*

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