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With the great majority of animals… the taste for the beautiful is confined to the attractions of the opposite sex. The sweet strains poured forth by many male birds during the season of love are certainly admired by the females . . . If female birds had been incapable of appreciating the beautiful colours, the ornaments, and voices of their male partners, all the labour and anxiety by the latter in displaying their charms before the females would have been thrown away; and this is impossible to admit… On the whole, birds appear to be the most aesthetic of all animals, excepting of course man, and they have nearly the same taste for the beautiful as we have…—The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871)

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