Friday, May 30, 2014

Pair Bonding in the Wild

I had my blood work appointment this morning, which had to be fasted, so no breakfast and no coffee.   Last night when I whined to Master about it he said I could stop by Starbucks afterward, which is a rare treat for me.  I also went by the grocery store and grabbed an apple fritter.  They have better bakery items and cheaper by far than Starbucks.   If I'm going to eat something that bad for me I want it to taste GOOD. 

I was feeling so perky after that, all hopped up on sugar and caffeine, that I stopped by a hiking trail on the way home and went for a little walk in the woods, still holding my half drunk coffee (regular, tall, black, no sugar).    

The woods were glorious, full of sunlight and bird song.  Only the mosquitoes made it less than perfect.

Deep in the woods I heard a rustle of leaves and, thinking it was just another squirrel, something still made me stop to look.  Not a squirrel at all, it was a female Rufous Sided (Eastern) Towhee.  Then the male showed up near by.  I was all excited, as they are not a commonly seen bird at all, and are really striking, so I stood still and let the mosquitoes have their feast.   

After a few minutes of hopping around the male came up with a large insect of some sort. He flew up to a small tree, and began fluffing his feathers and fanning his tail in a show-off sort of way.  The female flew to a lower branch of his tree and looked up at him acquisitively.    

I'm not that up on bird facial expressions, so I'm not sure if her look was a hero worshiping "Wow, what a provider he is!" or a more cynical "You gonna eat that, or what?"

A very common pair bonding ritual in birds is for the male to feed the female.  I suppose this is to show her that he'll be a good provider for their chicks.  At least, that is a more generous view than he's just bribing her for sex.  :P

The female flew off deeper into the woods and he followed right after, I assume to complete their ritual, though who really knows.  Maybe he just ate it himself and taunted her.  

Birds:  devoted partners or just assholes?  Coming soon on Wild Kingdom with Mutual of Omaha...

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