In Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest, there’s a man with a different persona — even a different name — in the city and in the country. He’s called Ernest in the city, and Jack in the country. He and his friend make up a fictitious invalid buddy with the lovely name of “Bunbury” who lives in the country — so that they can take trips to “visit” him there, but really so they can behave differently and have a jolly old time. They even have a name for their game! It’s called bunburying. Well this phenomenon of having two personas, one for the country and one for the city, isn’t limited to humans. There are birds who bunbury. One of them is the blackbird, as in the picture above. (If you’re wondering why it’s brown: baby blackbirds are born brown, and they only become black later.) When they are in the city, they eat different things, make houses in different places, and breed at different times of the year. (Maybe even, in bird language, they cheep out different names to each other! But probably not “Jack” and “Ernest”.) That’s because the city environment is very different from… Read full this story
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