Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Season of Love

Well folks, welcome back to the season of love. Though most folks will have their sense and senses overwhelmed by greeting cards and bouquets for the next couple of weeks, here in the south the best shows of love are in the trees right now: it’s courting season for the animals!

Here in the south, temperatures are on the rise and so are the libidos of our ardent avians. Whether you’re writing sonnets or capturing the beauty of flight in oils this season, take a minute to look out your window at the amazing adventures of our winged Romeos. The courtship rituals and displays of our songbirds are the best show in town. A few lessons in love from our fine-feathered friends:

Eat Like A Bird

This may be the best lesson my mother ever taught me about dating and marriage. Before a female cardinal will accept a male suitor as a mate, the male bird is expected to bring her food for a number of days. In this way, the female makes sure that the male is healthy enough and committed enough to take care of her and, hence, the chicks they will raise together. He literally has to show that he can bring home the bacon (or black-oil sunflower seed) reliably before she’ll invest the energy in helping him reproduce. Apparently courtship feeding is also the habit of many other species, including gulls, American Kestrels, Northern Harries, and Snowy Owls. Not so bird-brained after all, eh?

Give Gifts That Are Better Than Chocolate

House wrens build nests that females then judge and choose from. The best nest gets the girl. Bowerbirds build even more elaborate structures, complete with colored trinkets and that they find, to attract females. Life may be like a box of chocolates, but marriage is more like a house (or nest) – one that is built to be strong takes work, dedication, and upkeep; one that is weak will fall out from under you or down on top of you at the worst moment.

Do A Little Dance

There’s nothing like a little display of “the goods” to attract a mate. In the bird world, it’s usually the males in the spotlight, while the females get to play wallflower. Then, when a female spots a dapper dancer that just steals her birdy heart, she’ll go out to join her John Travolta in some couples dancing. I suppose the lesson we could all take from this is that in the game of love you’ve got to take a risk to get a big return – a little vulnerability and a lot of courage can get you a dancing partner for life. There’s no guarantee that you won’t step on each other’s toes, but at least you’ll have someone to shake your tail feathers with.

**This piece was originally published in the February 2009 issue of Moonshine, the online creativity magazine. View the entire magazine at**

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