Thursday, July 01, 2010

At first I thought that they were just kissing....

...and, I thought how sweet that was to see two of my backyard cardinals with their beaks interlocked. Maybe they were on a bird date? Or, could they be secret bird lovers hiding out in a tree? (I've been watching way too much reality tv!)

So, I sat and watched them for a while with my cameral in hand...but, everytime I got ready to take a photo, they flew away.

It seems that the male bird (the beautiful red one) was going to my feeder, filling up his beak with seeds, and then flying back to the tree limb to feed the female bird (the brown one).

After watching this for several minutes, I saw him do this over and over and over again. He would swoop down, fill up and then transfer it right to his girlfriend's mouth. (At this point I was hopeful that his female companion wasn't on Jenny Craig or any other special diet!)

Fascinated, I went to Google to see what I could learn about this behavior and here is what I found:

"At your bird feeder, you may see what is referred to as mate feeding. What you'll see is the male pick up a seed, hop over to the female, and the two momentarily touch beaks as she takes the food. Mate-feeding continues through the egg-laying and incubation phases of breeding.

Typically, Northern Cardinal pairs remain together the whole year. In winter, the bond may be relaxed. Pairs often stay mated until one dies at which time the surviving mate will look for another partner. "

and this:

"The Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized songbird with a body length of 21 centimeters. It has a distinctive crest on the head and a mask on the face which is black in the male and gray in the female. The male is a vibrant red, while the female is a dull red-brown shade. The Northern Cardinal is mainly granivorous, but also feeds on insects and fruit. The male behaves territorially, marking out his territory with song. During courtship, the male feeds seed to the female beak-to-beak. A clutch of three to four eggs is laid, and two to four clutches are produced each year. "

Later on I actually saw them "fighting" in flight. I wondered if this was part of the mating ritual, or if "the honeymoon was over"?

Next stop, the bird therapist?

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