Battle of the Buntings

22 05 2016


20160521IndigoBunting-Males-Greenbelt-8As I opened the car door I heard an Indigo Bunting singing in a nearby tree and then I heard ANOTHER! Two Indigo Buntings locked in a ancient battle to determine who will be the dominant male winning the best nesting spot and the girl. Each brilliant blue bird perched atop a tree sang with gusto. As tensions escalated one male advanced on the other and a high speed chase ensued. Then they flew back to their separate perches and began singing once again. The same scenario repeated until both birds fell silent. (Click here to listen to Indigo Bunting vocalizations.)

Unable to locate them I decided to photograph the Wild Lupines that are re-colonizing the sand plain. That’s when I first noticed both Buntings perched in the same tree. They were not singing, or fighting, they were taking turns hopping down to eat seeds off the ground. I followed their movements more closely now to observe more of their interactions. As I did a pattern emerged. While they had periods of time when they sang and battled, they also had peaceful interactions. When they foraged together and continuously called to each other to maintain contact. When they rested and napped they did so in the same tree in close proximity. Both birds seemed content to have the companionship of the other. The dichotomy of behaviors has adaptive benefits. There is more to male-to-male interactions than we might imagine. It isn’t all battling over the babe. 😉


Native Forest

20 05 2016

The song of the Red-eyed Vireo filled the air as the sun danced on new leaves rustling in the breeze. Periodically the rhythmic notes of a Black-throated Green Warbler punctuated the Vireo’s relentless “Here I am, Over Here, In a Tree, Look at me… ” Other warblers like the Black-throated Blue and American Redstart also piped up from time to time and off in the distance a Scarlet Tanager sang his raspy robin-like melody.

With my camera and/or binoculars trained on the tree tops I struggled to catch a glimpse of some of the more elusive warblers as their more curious cousins came in to see who the new gal was in their neighborhood. It was thrilling to be in the forest, surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of wild, untamed life. After a time I switched my lens and my attention to the plants as the bird songs faded into the background with the rustling of the leaves. I blinked in amazement when I looked down for the first time and discovered that I was surrounded by many of the crown jewels of the deciduous forest.

Days like yesterday are essential for my being. In those stolen moments I found peace, connection, nourishment, and love. I reunited with the forest, sending out roots through my toes that dug deep into the soil and stretching my arms high to embrace the sun and wind. Every particle of my being danced with my brothers and sisters to a rhythm created by our ancestors and we were in harmony.

(Note: Click on the images of the birds and plants for common name identification.)

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