In the early 1980s, biologist Malte Andersson carried out some seminal research in the area of female choice. Andersson studied long-tailed widow birds, whose males have tails one and a half meters (4.5 feet) long and court by jumping in the air. In the prairies where they live, they can be seen for a kilometer and a half (nearly a mile).
Andersson cut some males' tails short, down to 14 centimeters (5.5 inches), and elongated other males' tails. He was able to show, for the first time, that females do choose, and what they want are males with long tails, preferably artificially enhanced.
A decade later, Marion Petrie of Newcastle University, observed a group of male peacocks, and then clipped the eye spots out of half of the males' tails. She did not reduce the tail length, only the number of eye spots. She discovered that females preferred males with the most eye spots.