Spring has finally arrived – after a last-minute snow gasp nature is now turning to amour. Each morning I awake to a melodious cacophony of birdsong as territories are staked out and the mating game begins.
All is not moonlight and roses, however. As with most males of a species, as the testosterone levels rise in anticipation of meeting a mate(s) so does the level of aggression. After all, it is survival of the fittest and this goal is attained by fighting off potential rivals for the female’s attention.
During most of my nature walks, birds of a feather appear to live together fairly harmoniously, whether it be fishing or hunting for food or just generally hanging out.
However in the last few weeks, I have noticed a definite increase in the number of squabbles and outright skirmishes. I suppose this is round one and once the victors are identified then round two of the courtship will commence with dancing and wooing in earnest.
First up a couple of one on one battles on land and water:
Thrush (his rival is off camera)
This belligerence appears to have multiple outlets. I found that if their usual rivals weren’t available for a challenge, these ordinarily benign birdies would glare at whatever – or in my case whomever was nearby. Let me preface this section by giving a little background. Many bird species are monogamous and once their mate is found the pair remains together for life. The males are very very protective of their significant others so it is understandable that these fellows watched me with a wary eye when I got a little too close:
Sadly there have been a few instances where even in the absence of a mate, a bird has decided to give me an evil eye. The puffin at the top of this post is a prime example. Not only did he squawk at me, he also actually swam towards me with malice in his eyes, though he did decide at the last-minute to abandon his attack. Lucky me.
I believe this gull was just giving me a warning to keep my distance as he relaxed on a pole in the Long Island Sound:
This rock wren had been curiously watching me
But when I changed my position to get a different angle he gave me this “buzz off” stare:
I think this sparrow just got up on the wrong side of the branch, looking very cranky:
However this little guy wins the prize for his impression of “Angry Bird(s) – though sadly not my photo but found on the Internet:
Okay I hear ya! Back off!
Hopefully in the upcoming weeks I can catch a glimpse of stage two – the wooing – stay tuned!