If you look like the leaf you’re sitting on, you are a lot less likely to be singled out as a meal by a predator. And, if you don’t get eaten, you are also more likely to live long enough to reproduce. Chances are, your offspring will also look a lot like a leaf too. Hopefully they don’t get eaten either.
Meet the satanic leaf-tailed gecko of Madagascar. Through millions of years of evolution its camouflage is so precise it really does look like a leaf. And if some sharp-eyed predator (birds, snakes, and rats) does happen to spot one of these geckos, the gecko will resort to plan B. They scream. Plan C is to leap to a new branch. But take a look at the picture. Can you spot the gecko? I’ll be plan A works most of the time!
In my lifetime I’ve watched many, many documentaries, but none have made me laugh out loud like Dancing with the Birds. I also think I set a new record for the number of times I said, “WHOA!” All the birds in the documentary were fantastic, yet the male MacGregor’s bowerbird stole the show. This bird builds a bower on a platform of moss that’s more like a tower of woven sticks and twigs – it’s over 3 feet tall! The bird may spend months or years perfecting its bower and maintaining it. He also decorates, hanging plant sap and caterpillar feces among the lower branches much like humans decorate Christmas trees.
Once perfected, he awaits a female. When one arrives, he begins a show of vocalizations. MacGregor’s bowerbirds imitate other birds’ song as well as human voices and the sound of children playing. To say that this is amazing is an understatement. You gotta hear it to believe it. Then, once the female arrives at the bower they begin a lengthy game of hide-and-seek around the tower. They flit and jump round and round, back and forth. And hopefully, for him, she is as impressed as I was.