Some feminists wear feathers – It’s the time of year when birds are flying south for the winter. Scientists have learned that female birds in species that breed in groups (such as Purple Martins) not only indulge in sex orgies with many different males, they are the feminists of the bird world and can find themselves under pressure to sexually show off and evolve the same kinds of embellishments, like fanciful tail feathers or chest-puffing courtship dances, as the males around them do.

Ornithologist irby Lovette says, “We’ve known it happens with females in some specialized cases, but it’s probably more widespread than we ever realized before.”

Ornithologist Dustin Rubenstein agrees and says, “This goes beyond starlings. Any species that lives with relatives might be expected to show similar patterns. This type of complex social behavior is not only common in birds, but also many mammals, including humans, and insects.”

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