Attracting a good mate is crucial for animals, and especially so for satin bowerbirds. Males compete intensely with each other to build and decorate nestlike bower structures that will impress females – while slipping over to sabotage their neighbors’ efforts, and fiercely defending their own. Once females arrive at their bowers, males must show off their quality with a song and dance display.

A male bowerbird’s biggest challenge is balancing this intense performance pressure with personal needs like feeding and avoiding injury in violent fights. If they are to succeed, males need information about how to perform proper courtship, how strong or attractive their rivals are, and how much effort to invest in courtship. I study how males communicate with male and female visitors to their bowers to get critical access to this information.

I’m a PhD student in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, advised by Kern Reeve and Mike Webster. My graduate studies are supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.