I’ve been photographing a lot of birds this month Through the viewfinder I’ve come to observe that this is the time of year where the males of the avian world have their work cut out for them.
Lets face it. They need feathers like a Giorgio Armani suit, calls, songs and vocalese like a Barry White love song, dating dance moves like James Brown, ripped bodies like a flying Hugh Jackman, extreme coifs (check out the Cormorants wacky hairdo below) and oozing feathered sex appeal. Bowerbirds even have to prove they can build an attractive domicile too.
But more than all that, they have got to protect their turf and mate. There is tons of competition out there; all Machiavellian and ruthless (or is that redundant). The classic examples are the Mute Swans; the male swelling his feathers out so that he resembles a white battleship and harassing most every other waterfowl in sight. I mean really Mr. Rambo Swan, is a Canada goose going to violate your intimacy with the lovely Swan femme fatale and if so, don’t you really need to seriously reconsider your choice of partners? Still, I’ve recently seen a male Wood Duck go “Terminator” on a nearby dude that was just “hangin out”.
Fending off perceived competitors takes a lot of energy, a lot of running, flapping and chasing; a lot of harsh squawking and squealing, and certainly an incredible amount of bravado and machismo. Meanwhile the females seem to have a chuckle at all the commotion. “Silly Boys.” Yes, I know that later in the game, the female will lay the eggs and raise the young (although even there, the males are generally quite contributory to the feeding chores and cleaning the nest too). Still, I see the look in their eyes as I focus the camera. The look of fierce determination on the males face tells me that for them, “The Prize is Worth It.”