King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius)- male & female
Mixed media (colored paper cutout & permanent marker), 18 December 2012, 11" x 13.5"
This one is a bit different. The paper cutouts are a tribute to Henri Matisse. My reason for taking this approach reflects some of my perspective on the biological concept of sexual selection. In many cases where sexually selected traits influence mate choice, the females are choosing males that have the ability to survive while maintaining brilliant coloration and adornments that most certainly oppose forces of natural selection. Simply put, being brightly colored with all sorts of decoration does not aid the individual male's basic survival, but if he wants to reproduce (and increase his biological fitness) he has to be "pretty" in her eyes.
We certainly don't understand all that a female Bird of Paradise takes into consideration when making her mate choice, but I imagine she sees a male as a distinct pattern of colors (hence my choice for paper cutouts)... and if anything is out of place, he will not win her favor. Missing a delicate tail feather? Sorry, Mr. Bird of Paradise, you lose.
Of course, complex and ritualized mating displays and "dances" are an important part of mate choice for Birds of Paradise as well.
Poor little guys have a lot to do to impress the ladies... makes me really glad I'm not a Bird of Paradise.