Mon, Jan. 20

Around The Bluhmin’ Town: Even a bird brain knows outward appearance matters

Judy Bluhm

Judy Bluhm

Do you believe that the way we look has a lot to do with the way we feel? If so, read on.

Evidently not only people, but birds with “enhanced beauty” will have improved self-esteem. A group of scientists have made the discovery that they say proves that “clothes make the man” is more than just a theory. Well, in this experiment, the “man” is a male barn swallow and the “clothes” are magic marker dark streaks “painted” on their breasts and feathers.

Yikes, now we have birds getting their hair dyed to improve their looks. Suddenly, even the wimpiest of male birds became chick magnets with increased testosterone levels! The biology professors who conducted the research claim that when birds feel more attractive and “sexy” to chicks (oops, I mean female birds) it triggers a series of “body chemistry changes.”

OK, so the “marked-up” barn swallows act differently. It seems with a few strokes of a black marker, male birds began to “strut their stuff” in very aggressive ways. The birds acted like steroid-taking, pumped-up body builders on Venice Beach! These barn swallows were getting plenty of female bird stares, chirps and flirtatious wing-flapping. Sadly, the poor birds that were left “unmarked” began to become passive and depressed.

One scientist calls it the ultimate proof that outward appearances do, indeed, translate to higher self-esteem, more energy and better breeding opportunities. Hey, is it possible that this “bird doctor” actually has a bird-brain? We’re talking barn swallows here!

It does seem that most Americans have become obsessed with “outward beauty.” Too bad the bird world has to follow. Next it will be frogs, fish, maybe even lizards. Actually, I have a few adorable lizards living in my backyard and one of them seems to constantly do push-ups in front of the others. This is the male’s way of “puffing up” for the female lizard (or cooling off). Showing off those bulging muscles is just one more way for the lizard to win a heart.

Let’s face it, looks matter. From reptiles to people, there is power in outward appearances. I guess I was hoping that the animal kingdom would be more enlightened and that maybe a lizard without the biggest biceps would still get the girl. Or that the pale, “natural” barn swallow can find a mate. It would be nice to believe that it is only humans who seem to be swallowed up (no pun intended) by good looks.

Let’s try an experiment for one week and forget about outward appearances and focus on qualities like kindness, generosity and love. Oh, I have plenty more to say on this topic, but I do have a hair and manicure appointment that I can’t miss. Truth is, maybe a little magic marker (or make-up) and a few more push-ups are pretty darn good ideas. If we look good . . do we feel good? Hmmm, maybe more research is required. I better get to the gym and will report back to you. Next week.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and area realtor. Have a story of a comment? Email Judy at

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