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. 😉




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