The males and females of some bird species appear
identical. In other species, males have very brightly colored or elaborate plumage, which they show off during breeding season. Some of
these plumage differences are more important than others. The male common flicker has a "mustache" of black feathers. It is this
"mustache" which identifies him as a male. If the black feathers are painted over, the female ignores him, thinking he's another female. In
turn, if a black "mustache" is painted on the female, the male will vigorously chase her out of his territory, thinking she is another male.
Below: A female cardinal. Males have bright red feathers. Photo by Maya Walters.
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