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The Mating Game

Introduction | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 | Mating Gallery

Round 5

Meet the contestant:
Carol, the satin bowerbird
(Ptilinorhynchus violaceus)

Host: Our next eligible bachelorette is a lovely lady from Down Under. Let's welcome Carol, a four-year-old satin bowerbird from Queensland, Australia. So nice to have you join us, Carol. I must say, given your name, I expected a gal with a bit more sheen to her plumage. And I'm also a bit stumped by the "bower" part. You don't seem to have much of a waist, so I'm not sure how you "bow" down. Help me out here, Carol. Please, tell us about yourself.

Carol: Well, Larry, we females may not be the "fairer sex", but I'd rather look at a fine, satin-feathered guy, myself. And a "bower" is something we birds build, not do. Or at least the males of the species build them. Think of it as a love nest -- they're more for couples than for kids.

Host: So you're looking for an avian architect?

Carol: That's right. A master builder.

Host: Okay, then, Carol. This is our "Sexual Selection" round on The Mating Game, and it's a little different from the earlier rounds on today's show.

Here are the rules: Behind each of these three curtains sits a bachelor eager to please -- but only one of them is the handybird you're looking for. You won't have any trouble picking out a member of your own species, Carol, because all the bachelors in this round are satin bowerbirds, just like yourself!

You see, there's more to the mating game than just finding a mate of our own species. Because when it comes to evolution, not just any mate will do. What we're all looking for is the fittest possible mate, with the best genes, who'll help us have healthy offspring to carry on our genetic line.

So the trick in this round -- just as it is out "in the field" -- is to find the fittest individual for that genetic roll of the dice.

Ready to play, Carol? Good luck!

The game:

Question 1:

What's your idea of a dream bachelor pad?

Bachelor #1: 

Open, airy, high ceilings. And the bigger the better: I need space to do my thing ... and hope we can do our thing together.

Bachelor #2: 

A cozier shack's more my style -- I try to bring in fresh flowers every day. I love to decorate.

Bachelor #3: 

I like a cool, contemporary look. I'm an artist, so my pad is my studio. I work mostly with "found objects" -- natural materials, metal, plastic. I paint as well.

Question 2:

Here's an easy one: What's your favorite color?

Bachelor #1: 

Blue, like my deep-blue eyes.

Bachelor #2: 

Blue. Definitely blue.

Bachelor #3: 

Blue is more than my middle name, baby.

Question 3:

What's your idea of the perfect date?

Bachelor #1: 

A lady bird who doesn't play too hard to get.

Bachelor #2: 

It takes time to get intimate -- and part of the pleasure is in the prologue.

Bachelor #3: 

Dinner, dancing, romancing. I'm ready to go all out -- bring you flowers, sing you love songs. I'm no Julio Iglesias, but I can choke out a tune. And I can really strut my stuff on the dance floor. Then when you're ready, we'll stroll down the avenue to my inner sanctum.

The choice:

Host: Okay, Carol, it's time to choose. What do you think? Is your lovebird behind Curtain Number One, Number Two, or Number Three? Take your time. Review the bachelors' responses if you like. Then, when you're ready, click on a curtain to reveal your choice.

Well, audience, Carol has chosen Bachelor Number One. Good choice? We'll see. But first, let's meet the bachelors she passed up before we reveal her mystery date.

Meet the bachelors:

Host: Carol, you'll be disappointed to hear that you do have a lot in common with Bachelor Number Two. Like you, Archie is a satin bowerbird eager to increase his brood, but he didn't have the traits to win you over. He's not a big guy, and he tends to get bullied by other males in the neighborhood. Some even charge his territory and pilfer from his bower. So, it's a good thing he's patient -- he needs to constantly refurbish his bower over the nine-month mating season to have any hope of luring a gal like you. To help you out, Archie, we've got a gift certificate for a personal trainer at Bowerbird Bodybuilders. Good luck next mating season, Archie.

Well, Carol, I'm afraid you've missed the chance for a memorable mating. Bachelor Number Three, a model specimen of the satin bowerbird, goes by the nickname "Bluey," a term of endearment to his Aussie fans. And it's clearly fitting, given his iridescent blue-black plumage and those violet-blue eyes. Bluey's a vigorous male who builds a good-sized bower -- and he's quite a decorator, too. He's a passionate collector of floral works and rock art, and even picks up the occasional ballpoint pen and bottle cap. His ornate bower is not only irresistible to you ladies, but also may scare off other males. The meaning of his artwork remains enigmatic, but some critics interpret it as representing food sources. He works mostly in berry-blues, and his paint of choice is regurgitated fruit pulp. He's also quite the showman -- although his singing style, mimicking crows and kookaburras, isn't all that original.

Bluey, for playing The Mating Game, you'll receive a year's subscription to "Bird House and Garden." You never know where those next decorating ideas may come from.

Don't be alarmed, Carol. There still could be another eager bird behind the curtain. It's time to meet Mel, your mystery date.

Carol, you couldn't have found a more macho Aussie mate. But from what I hear of your species, size isn't everything. Sure, it's helped Mel intimidate some other males -- he's even torn down a few of his rival's bowers -- but I suspect that a beautiful bird like you, Carol, wants more. Mel's lackluster decorating skills have left his pad a bit sparse for your taste. Given that less than nine percent of all courtships lead to the real deal, Mel's got to shape up his act -- and his bower -- if he's to pass his genes down the evolutionary line. Mel, your blind date with Carol may be your best shot. And to put you both in the right mood, we're sending you to Acapulco, Mexico. Have a great time!


That's it for this edition of The Mating Game, folks. We hope you learned something watching each of our contestants. Their struggles show us the evolutionary challenge faced by all creatures, no matter the species: to find a mate -- the right mate -- before time runs out. Best of luck to all our panelists and contestants in their future quest for that special someone! If you haven't already, be sure to check out the Dating and Mating Gallery. Good night!

Introduction | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 | Mating Gallery

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