“I am never going to get laid with this plumage.” said Gruick, picking at his feathers. “It’s so dull, people are going to think I’m a girl.”

“Oh Gruick, you’re not brown, you’re just a deep maroon.” said Jason, scratching his goatee and leaning back against the violet Lurilura tree.

“What would a human know about grooming?” asked Gruick in his lilting contralto.

Jason shrugged. “Not much, which is the reason I came here to study your people.”

Gruick fixed one black beady eye on the anthropologist. “You humans have it all reversed, with your females in bright colors and your males as dull as sand. Humans always do things downwind, advertising your fertility with manufactured coverings rather than your natural colors. You are always manipulating your environment, something that has lead you again and again into trouble.”

Jason thought about the recording device in his head and the synthetic boots that were protecting his feet from the biting insects of the forest floor. “Maybe, but it’s given us benefits too.”

“Oh yes. I know. Your whole species is just so proud of its opposable thumbs.”

Jason chuckled. “You are just cranky because it’s mating season and you aren’t getting laid. Aren’t Greeb worms supposed to help your feathers change into a brighter color?”

Gruick ruffled his feathers in frustration. “I have eaten enough Greeb worms to make myself sick in the hope of turning scarlet, but it hasn’t worked.” Gruick folded his slender legs under his downy belly and trilled a sigh. “I’m just naturally brown, and I’m never going to attract a girl. All of them are so shallow, they would never even approach a dull male.” He stuck his head under one of his four wings.

“What if you used a dye?” asked Jason.

“A dye?” croaked Gruick, his voice muffled by his feathers. “What is that?”

“It’s a coloring that humans use to make their clothes different colors. I bet I could order some dye and we could color your feathers.”

Gruick pulled his head out from under his wing. “You could do that?”

Jason shrugged. “Sure. I bet the opposable thumbs might even come in handy for applying the dye.”

Translucent eyelids batted over Gruicks beady eyes. “Wait. Do you think the girls might be able to tell if I dyed my feathers?”

“Maybe.” said Jason “But by the time they get close, I’m sure they will be utterly seduced by your charming personality.”

“That’s a good point. Fine, we will try it the human way. Order your dye and we’ll see what your little thumbs can do.”