Friday, February 23, 2007

Love Letters and Mate Gifts

Spring is in the air. At Fallbrook Square in the San Fernando Valley, the male raven is offering sticks for the remodeling of the pair’s nest on the “L” of the Kohl’s sign. The titmice and the Bewick’s wrens are checking out the bird house. While overhead the red-tailed hawks are soaring with their feet extended ready to clasp talons mid-flight to reinforce their mate bond.

Is it love? Hard to say. The raven offers a stick, the red-tailed hawk offers a freshly caught gopher, while for St. Valentine’s Day chocolate and flowers are the primary human offerings. Humans claim to express romantic “love,” but many birds mate for life and work together as a pair raising multiple families of offspring. Hmmm, what’s more romantic than a delicately offered mouse you caught yourself?

Expressing ardor with voice is a typical bird action. Song birds like white-crowned sparrows and the Bewick’s wren sing to their mate and to delineate territory. While some humans sing, we are more likely to express romance through the written word. Up until the advent of e-mail, humans frequently wrote love letters.

For Valentine’s Day a group of us humans did a live reading of famous love letters.

You can download the readings at
Love Letters

Listen on your computer or download to an iPod or other mp3 player. You might be surprised at the romantic writings of Napoleon and the devotion of John and Abigail Adams. Next year maybe we’ll have to include some bird song.

Did we count birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count?

You bet 320 individual birds. Stay tuned for our Birding From Sepulveda Basin Podcast.

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