How are birds like designers?

I walk one of our local conservation properties in the morning. It is old farmland with fields, wetlands and woods preserved for eternity. The landscape is a rich habitat for plants, birds and animals.

It affords nature freaks like me, a (usually) quiet place to walk, birdwatch and otherwise bask in the tranquility and peace that is found within a natural environment.


Every season there is something different to see. In early Spring the red-winged blackbirds are vibrant with their stunning carmine red epaulets. They flit about strutting their stuff, establishing territories in their little part of the wetlands. Like designers, red winged blackbirds know how to use color.

That flash of red is unmatched in its brightness, you can see these guys showing off from a great distance. Like a stop sign, those shoulders flashing red acts as a warning to other males to keep their distance.

Birds dance around and flash their feathers to attract mates, ward off enemies and communicate lots of complex messages that we have only really begun to understand. In combination with song these messages are impossible to miss, and enjoyable to witness. As designers we use colors to communicate messages all the time too. The right color choice can enhance a successful campaign, but a wrong color choice can send really mixed messages.


Sometimes as a designer I am asked to deliver despite some challenges... I have to make the most of what I have. Sometimes that is a limited budget, or a not so great logo that someone else designed, it can be difficult sometimes. But designers are problem solvers and we can usually find a solution no matter the obstacles put in our way.

Birds are also very resourceful. Particularly when it comes to nest building. Their instincts tell them to use the materials that are near the nesting site, twigs, or mud or fur or even spiders webs. Sometimes those things are tough to find, and when faced with that, they scavenge to find what will work instead to build their specific style of nests. Robins are especially good at that.


Just like designers, birds also face very stiff deadlines.

Up here in the north, there are only a few short months to find a mate, nest and bring up a proper brood or two of chicks. Which is of course, their main job in life.

The clock ticks on these guys and that internal deadline motivates them every waking hour.

Carrying on the bloodline is important work, and they stop at nothing to ensure that they are successful. If they fail they start again, knowing that the end game is the most important thing they have to think about.

And just like us, if they miss that deadline... it could mean dire consequences.


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