Posts Tagged ‘feminist birds’

An emu dad is a candidate for father of the year. He takes care of chicks, even if they are not his own, for up to 18 months.

  In 1999, at a time in my life when I was slowing down, I took up birdwatching. It’s still been about the only thing I’ve ever done that absolutely requires patience, something I always thought couch-potatoes used as an excuse to Be lazy.

 In the beginning, I spent hours and hours on the Antelope Island Causeway in Great Salt Lake learning to identify ducks. The island was also the first place I saw a bird through a telescope. It was a western meadowlark, and the golden color of the bird’s throat took my breath away.

 As I learned more and more about these winged creatures, I became partial to the ones that seemed to be feminists, outshining or out-sexing the normally more colorful males.

First there was the belted kingfisher. I was delighted to learn that the female was the more colorful of the two genders. It sports a reddish belly band on its blue and white feathers which the male lacks.

 Then came the Galapagos hawk, which I saw in the Galapagos. The female, after she lays her eggs, leaves all the nest sitting and chick-tending to her male partner, while she goes off and finds another male to mate with.

 This somewhat made up for most birds, like sage grouse males whose only contribution to their female partners is to impregnate them, which takes no more time than two blinks of an eye.

The males gather in what is called a lek, and drum by expanding their chests to attract the females, who to my feminist delight were very picky and often walked away. I got to watch this action, after hiking before dawn to a blind on Desert Ranch in Utah.

Another avian feminist is the African jacana, a bird I saw during a 2007 safari to Kenya and Tanzania.  It’s a wading bird species in which the female also leaves all the chick rearing to the male while she finds another partner.

 Then there’s the giant emu. After producing an egg, the brooding, and then the care and feeding of the hatchlings is all the male’s responsibility, even if all the eggs aren’t his own. He has even learned how to carry a chick beneath his wings.

 You go girls?

 Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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