BirdNote® Mating for Life
A pair of American kestrels. (Photo: © Tom Grey)
Birds like to be in pairs, at least for the mating season. Michael Stein reports on why many feathered couples don’t stick around much longer than that.
[BIRD NOTE® THEME]
GELLERMAN: Birds of a feather may flock together, but most bird pairs aren’t in it for the long term. BirdNote®’s Michael Stein reports that when it comes to love, birds are flighty.
[CROAKING OF THE COMMON RAVEN]
STEIN: Mating for life may be the human ideal, but most bird species in North America mate for a single breeding season. Some may team up with the same mate the following year just because both stay in, or return to, the same territory. But such togetherness is relatively rare.
Because most birds of the north-temperate zone migrate, remaining in touch with a mate throughout the autumn and winter is difficult. For instance, fewer than one-fifth of song sparrow pairs are reunited.
[SONG SPARROW SONG]
STEIN: For long-term fidelity, look among the larger birds: large resident birds such as hawks, eagles, and ravens -
[COMMON RAVEN CROAKING]
STEIN: have wide territories, meaning few contacts with the opposite sex. Maintaining a relationship through the winter may assure breeding in the next season. You'll often see such birds in pairs throughout the year.
[CLUCKING OF RAVENS]
STEIN: Most seabirds meet and breed in colonies. But marbled murrelets, little relatives of puffins, breed inland in old-growth forests. They have no chance to meet each other in a colony. So when a male and a female get together, they stay together.
[MARBLED MURRELET CALLS]
STEIN: In the animal realm, birds still provide the best examples of seasonal mate fidelity. Most birds form devoted pairs for at least each breeding season, not something that can be said for most mammals. For BirdNote®, I’m Michael Stein.
GELLERMAN: To see some photos of loving birds make a bee line to our website - LOE dot ORG.
Calls of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Common Raven recorded by R.S. Little, Song Sparrow by G.A.Keller, Marbled Murrelet by K.S. Nelson and ambient created from R.S. Little.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Newsletter [Click here]
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth