Friday, February 4, 2011

Flamingo Friday: Flirting

As I mentioned a month or so ago, even in the chill of winter, love is in the air for flamingos. While I haven’t yet witnessed anything as explicit as the peacock interlude I saw last spring, I have observed all kinds of exciting and bizarre behaviors.

Last month, I stopped by the flamingo enclosure to see all of the flamingos with their necks extended—an extreme rarity, since these are not synchronous birds—and, even more surprising, with their heads tilted upwards towards the skies.

["Look, it's a bird!"
"It's a plane!"
"No, it's a...bird!"]

At first I thought they were responding to a hawk or other potential predator—they’ve stuck their necks up in the past over such perceived threats—but this was different. The weird angle of their heads was new—as was the way they all kept turning their heads from side to side as if presenting their best profile for a feature in Vogue .

As it turns out, this behavior is called “head flagging.” It’s generally accompanied by several other courtship behaviors, including wing salutes and twist preens (both featured in the photo below):

Then there’s the inverted wing salute, which is like a bow with wings extended:

[sorry it's sans-head; but note
the startling pink behind:
a mating-season phenomenon?]

And finally there’s the wing-leg stretch:

As you can see, these intrepid, hormone-crazed flamingos will continue their mating rituals even during snow showers.

[note the inverted wing salutes]

And you thought the singles’-bar contortions of humans were impressive!

[P.S. - Speaking of mating rituals, don't forget that you can view/purchase my Valentines at this Zazzle link.]

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

1 comment:

Anca said...

That wing-leg stretch! Pavlova at her best. I dream of a room papered over with your Flamingo Fridays.

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