The Birds and the Bees and a thing called Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!  My honey and I have been thinking about this day and decided to do some Birds Se See in Baja California Sur posts and share them with you!  We love watching and listening to the birds and the bees but…mainly the birds.

Thanks to Chris’ vast knowledge and awareness of birds and wildlife, I fortunately became a birder when we were married nearly 17 years ago.  This is one of the greatest gifts he has given me.  In 2008, we started getting more serious about photographing birds and other wildlife when we went on African safaris.  When we returned and presented our photographs on the big screen for our friends and neighbors, everyone said we needed to sell our photos and/or write a book.  Since our safari experience, we have traveled to many other birding destinations, relentlessly photographing, watching and listening to the birds.

We are so fortunate here in Baja California Sur to have so many beautiful and interesting birds.  Our Baja collection now consists of over 500 original photographs taken from our backyard, arroyos, estuaries, and lagoons in Baja California Sur. During this time we also continuously upgraded our photographic equipment.  Maybe some day I will understand how to operate that equipment to its fullest potential!  We kept looking at all this captured beauty and decided we wanted to share it with you.  That’s why Chris wrote his newly released book, Birds We See in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

This book is a photographic journey of the Birds We See in the estuaries, arroyos and seashores of Los Cabos and the East Cape region of Baja. It contains more than 185 original photographs, 80 species and 3 of the 6 endemic birds of Baja California Sur.

If you have not already ordered your copy, you are missing out.  It gives us great pride when we place the book in a buyer’s hands and they start paging through it, with a huge smile on their face.

I have learned so very much about the social and mating habits of birds from years of intense observation.  Some of you may remember that I have written previously about how these habits totally amaze me.  I think it’s something that a lot of us take for granted, the story of the birds and the bees.  Sound familiar?

So…let’s think about the birds and the bees together and next time you bird, pay extra attention to what the birds are saying to each other.  Can you understand them?  What is it that you think they are saying?  And better yet, who are they talking to?  Their spouse?  Their wanna be spouse?  Another male or if a female, another female?  Do they show love in their habits and performances?  Or is it just lust?  Look and listen for yourself and you decide.

Some of the courting performances I’ve seen have been incredible.  I think often about videoing the birds’ dances and habits, especially their courting habits as I would like to share them with you by sight, not just in writing.  But…I am still trying to improve my still  photography at this point so the videoing is going to have to wait.

Northern Mockingbird

I have seen our own Northern Mockingbird doing his dance on top of a telephone pole near our casa.  It was such a spectacular site.  He was running, hoisting himself several feet into the air and doing several cartwheels then landing, feet first, back on the same pole.  Over and over again.  All the time he was doing this, about 30 minutes, he was singing many different songs.  I was glued to the spectacular performance.  I hope to see it again and at least get some still photos to share with you.

 

House Finch, immature

I’ve also been engrossed watching the courting performances of our House Finch.  The male is simply incredible in his displays of dance and song and of course, the female is her beautifully plain self and most of the time she’s pecking at him the whole time he is dancing and singing for her, trying his best to impress her.  Sound familiar?

This handsome songster dances around and around the female, bobbing and dipping while the whole time singing.  I haven’t figured out for sure what he is saying yet but he sure gives her a good talking to.  I think he’s telling her that he’s better than anyone else she could possibly find.  Sound familiar?

Then he stands on the very tips of his tows and ends his melodic and loud song with….riiiiiEEEET!  Well, of course we know he’s right.  Sound familiar?

House Finch, female

The way the colors change on the male House Finch is something in itself to watch.  In the above photo, of the immature male House Finch you can see he is just beginning to get his color.  Not eye popping to say the least.  But, when the male becomes mature and starts exuberating all this fascinating color, it definitely is not only getting human attention but more importantly, it’s getting the attention of the female of the species and  courting ideas starting popping into their little bird brains.  Sound familiar?

House Finch, adult male

 

House Finch, adult male

 

 

 

 

Here we can see the mature males and we can also see that their colors vary widely.  We have not come to any conclusions about the differences in color as to where why and what causes the differences but I’m inclined to think it comes from their diet.  We also know for sure that one of the reasons the male species have more color than the female is to attract predators and other danger away from their nests or young.

Most of us Baja birders know that finches like to eat oranges.  Do you think this is what may cause the orangish yellowish color in this mature male?  I think it’s very possible.

So, I’ve written about the Northern Mockingbird and the House Finch’s love songs and dances but, I have yet to see in person the mating dance of the Western Grebe, which we have on many Oregon lakes.  I was hoping to do some Western Grebe birding in April/May on Klamath Lake but I think my honey wants to come back to Baja so….guess we are coming back to Baja instead.  For those who have not seen this video capturing this magnificent dance, you must play it.

When we were birding the other day, I had Valentines’s Day on my mind and turned the story into people represented by the birds and the bees, mostly the birds, while looking through my view finder.  I hope to make you smile.  So reply to my post in our Baja birding forum and let me know, ok?

This female Costa's Hummingbird is dressed to the hilt for Valentine's Day. She's even adorned her little yellow hat!

And this adult male Costa's Hummingbird has his eye on her!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This House Finch babe even applied eye liner for her Valentine's Day debut

Male and female House Finch thinking about building a house together on the next lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you mean I can't have my own bathroom?

 

 

Okay. After second thought, you can have your own bathroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be My Valentine

Chris and I get kind of dreamy with each other when we watch the birds and the bees, mostly the birds.  The male tries soooo hard to impress the female and often she just pecks at him and flies off.  Sometimes she doesn’t just fly off as she’s so impressed with the beauty and superior performance of the male.  This sounds real familiar to me.  Happy Valentine’s Day to my honey and Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

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