Friday, December 17, 2010

Flamingo Friday: The Sap Also Rises

Imagine my surprise when on a chill late-November day I stood in front of the flamingo exhibit and saw a sign informing visitors that the flamingo breeding season was upon us. Apparently the birds mate from winter through about April or so, and they’ve started now. The placard informs visitors to watch for breeding behaviors like wing-flapping and head bowing—the latter of which looks like this:

I didn’t see much of it in November, but last week I saw a huge display of flamingo flapping-and-running-around, which was so entrancing that I nearly developed flamingo-induced hypothermia in my determination to watch and document it for a long time. (I actually had to do jumping jacks a couple of times to encourage circulation in my fingers and be able to depress the shutter release).

The flamingos, as mentioned, don’t just flap their wings but also, often, run while doing it. Maybe wild birds, who don’t have clipped wings, are half-aloft during the display. These guys, though, just ran around in a rather amusing way. And the flapping of one generally incited others to flap, too, until I felt quite at home doing my jumping jacks. Both males and females, as far as I could tell from the leg tags, engage in this behavior.

I wasn’t able to check up on them yet this week (the day I visited it had snowed a whole two inches, which is panic-time for DC, and they claimed the bird area was closed due to “dangerous conditions”), but I’m looking forward to documenting more mating rituals as the winter continues. It’s a lot more entertaining and less traumatizing than the sex lives of tortoises. But then, isn’t anything?

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

Albatrosses mate from November to late winter, too. The chicks fledge and leave in May. These are wonderful photos of "foreplay," especially as I watch the unrelieved gray sky and the flurries outside my office window.

Molly LeCaptain said...

I LOVE flamingos! I was so happy to have stumbled upon a blog that features them once every week, and by someone who appreciates them as much as I do! Thank you!!


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