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Longtailed widowbird at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, South Africa  

Longtailed widowbird at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, South Africa

With a name like ‘widowbird,’ you’d expect this dusky male to have a low-key love life. But those 20-inch-long tail feathers are highly favored by females, even though they can make it difficult for the males to fly on windy days. The display has been the subject of much study regarding sexually selected traits and the tradeoffs between physical constraint and attracting a mate, since the tail feathers don’t seem to aid in flight and may even cause a hinderance. Ah, the things we do for love.

© Richard Du Toit/Getty Images

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