Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day is for the birds!

It is spring, the time of love in bird land. Early this morning, as my husband handed me a lovely bouquet of orange roses, I glanced out the window in front of my bed and watched as a tiny female house sparrow hopped onto the fence. Her mate hopped down beside her. He had a seed in his beak, which he gently, lovingly, placed in her beak.

I have seen this often between birds during mating season. At our last house, with the two ponds in front, the females liked to sit in front of the water as the males hopped up to the food dish, then brought seeds to their mates, placing the precious food in the beak of their mates just as gently and compassionately as a husband placing a bouquet of flowers in the arms of his adoring wife, feeding the love in their relationship, strengthening the bond, saying "thank you for being my partner in creating a family."

I am not surprised when I see affection between animals, what does surprise me is the obvious depth of emotions. I love watching vultures, who mate for life, land on a post then slowly inch closer to each other, nuzzling necks, preening feathers. Sometimes, one of the vultures--I am assuming it is the male--will fly up and around the other, then land beside his mate again.

The Northern Cardinals are wonderful to watch. They follow each other closely, flitting from branch to branch, bright flashes of red amongst the ever-greens, never more than a few feet away from each other until, of course, it is time to watch over the nest.

Some of the most precious observations are spent watching the parents care for their baby birds. I love watching the mother and father sparrows fly up to the nest every ten to fifteen minutes with a bug in their beaks, gently lowering it down to the chirping, gaping mouths of their babies.

Road Runners are fun to watch, too. When the baby is ready, the parents will take the young Road Runner out to hunt lizards. They strut across the fields with their heads moving carefully from side to side, and once they spot their prey, they pounce so quickly it is faster than a finger snap, and the baby watches carefully, awed by the hunting skill of its parents.

I hope you all have a very happy Mother's Day with all the little hatchlings in your bevy of quail, your peep of chickens, your palette of painted buntings, your venue of vultures, your host of sparrows, your dole of doves...

No comments: