Danger Is a Diet, Not a Middle Name

A female great bustard studies the backside of a male in full courtship display. (Photo by Franz-Josef Kovacs)

Maybe there is something to it. How’s this for a lede?

The lengths we go to for love can sometimes be dramatic—and so it is for male great bustards (Otis tarda), whose daredevil diet of poisonous beetles may actually help them get a date, a new study reveals.


Jason Bittel’s headline for National Geographic News calls the discovery a first. And perhaps the lede overstates things; the behavior is already known to help reduce parasite infestation. But a first? Then again, the question of just who finds who or what attractive as a symptom of alcohol poisoning through binge drinking is probably a little less clear.


Bittel, Jason. “Male Birds Poison Themselves to Appear Sexier—a First”. National Geographic News. 24 October 2014.

Image credit: Detail of photograph by Franz-Josef Kovacs.