Courtship and mating according to Bubba

When I get home in the evening I sit on the deck. Iean back in my chair and gaze at all the stars the sky has to offer me, however Bubba restlessly sniffs to the north and south for a female. Currently he's been obsessed with a French maid's poodle in San Pedro and the serenity of my veranda has been assaulted with constant questions about feelings for her and their differences.

I've found, over the years, the way to get Bubba to understand something is to give him an analogy to the Birds so here I am this week writing about the sex life of birds for Bubba's sake!

I began explaining to Bubba how some birds are noted for their unusual mating systems, nevertheless, we should not lose sight of the fact that the large majority of birds, well, over 90% of them, have normal monogamous breeding partnerships. In spite of the interesting adaptations of the few, simple pair bonds between opposite sexes of the same species are the norm.

Even though most birds are monogamous. it is an old wives tale that many, such as the Osprey, mate for life or will not remate if they lose their partner. Birds are by no means always so faithful. Partners may change between one year and the next, even between the beginning and end of a season.

Some species are polygamous, the males taking several mates: the new world Orioles and Boat-tailed Grackels of Ambergris are amongst these. Often the males will court a single female. mate with her and accompany her while she builds and lays, only to desert her as she starts to incubate the egg and then go throughh the same Drocedure with the next female.

The female Northern Jacana found around the lagoons behind Ambergris take the opposite position having several males working for her, building nests and hatching her eggs. This is called "polyandry".

Courtship is the first stage of where you want to be, Bubba. Courtship simplified is just the behavior by which one recognizes others of the same species and establishes membership in the breeding population, usually through elaborate display or dances. I explained to Bubba that in the bird world the true definition of species is just a group of interbreeding birds which are reproductively isolated from other groups of birds. Race is a term used by ornithologists to refer to a sub species and sub-species is a recognizable and morphologically distinct population within a certain species like your poodle friend.

Bubba looked troubled, he can't dance and has often displayed a desire for instant gratification using the pragmatic approach.

The second stage of courtship in the prelude to mating involves the recognition of the sex of the other bird, in many cases this is by no means easy from appearances. In a bird such as the Carribean Mocking bird that shows little difference in appearance between male and female. It is done initially through the female's recognition of the male as a singing bird. Mating is done after courtship and usually in a designated area.

It is said that hybrids (the product of interbreeding two different species) are more common in species where the female only briefly visits the male at a display ground for mating. Since mistakes might be more likely where there are a greater number of closely related species, it is not surprising that one finds bright. distinctive plumages or songs in males where several species are gathered together, such as the rainforest, and less distinctive ones where species are not so closely intermixed in habitat.

I told Bubba he needs to remember that the choice of which partner, bird or otherwise, always seems to be made by the female. You can puff up your chest, dance around, make postures, display your plumage, sing, and even build her a great nest, but the bottom line is, it's always her decision. Bubba was quiet and reflective the rest of the evening occasionally staring down the beach and giving a heavy sigh.

Birds of Ambergris Caye

This page, and all contents, are Copyright © Elbert Greer