Readers’ wildlife photos

December 5, 2022 • 8:15 am

Today’s photos come from physicist and origami master Robert Lang, taken from his home office in California. Robert’s captions and ID’s are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

These birds are a good demonstration of a biological “rule”, which has some exceptions: if one sex in a species is more colorful, decorated, or prone to display or call than the other sex, or to fight with other members of the sex for reproductive access to the other sex the pugnacious or elaborate sex is male. That is, of course the result of sexual selection. (As I said, there are some exceptions, like seahorses and pipefish, but given their reproductive system [look it up], they’re really exceptions that prove the rule.)

Bird Sexual Dimorphism

These photos were taken from my office desk looking out the window to the back garden, which has a small fountain. It attracts a lot of birds (as well as the occasional bobcat, coyote, and bear). In this batch, I’ll show some birds which differ markedly in coloration between the male and female of the species.

We’ll start with a male Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata).

The female has a lot more yellow on her; here you see them together:

Next, the Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Dryobates nuttallii). First, the female (all-black head):

And then the male, with a red patch on the head:

Next, a Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus). Lots of orange on the male:

But a much more subdued female:

Then, one of my favorite visiting birds: the Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus). Its brilliant yellow makes me think of something tropical, rather than the near-desert of Southern California:

And, once again, the female has more subdued coloration:

I’ll close with two visiting couples: House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) and Hooded Orioles, both male and female of each on the fountain:

I couldn’t resist putting up a short video of Robert’s origami work. Remember, each figure is made from a single sheet of paper. And check out his folded American flag on his Wikipedia page!

And a duck he folded for me!:

9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Ah, what a delightful set – a study in pairs – very clear, very beautiful …

    The “hooded” might appear as a “hoodie” – as in, the sweatshirt appendage…. kind-of pulled down for a look of edgy attitude …

    Come to think of it, what is the origami Mallard – drake? Hen? That mallard needs to be paired up with a friend!

  2. Other exceptions to the rule that the more elaborate or pugnacious sex is male: phalaropes, a small family of three weird shorebird species.

    I can’t even begin to fathom how one would make such amazing creations by folding paper: a rare talent indeed.

    I love these wonderful photos of beautiful “backyard” visitors, The bird identified as a female Yellow-rumped Warbler has a thick bill, though, and appears to be a Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria).

    1. I can’t imagine how its done either! But maybe there are certain folding patterns to give a certain shape, and one contrives to assemble different shapes together.

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