Monday, December 19, 2011

The Lovebirds, Part III

There are two boat ramps at this spot on the river, both of which are on two different pieces of private property.  I have graciously been given permission to use both.  The two ramps are perhaps an hundred feet apart.  So, back to yesterday's story...

At the point (yesterday) where the great blue heron jumped back into the air, the second bird was about two-thirds of the way across the river, so it was easy to correct it's flight and follow the other bird.  While I expected both birds to disappear down river in swift flight, I was surprised once more as the lead bird dropped down and landed at the other ramp, no more than a stone's throw from where I stood, quickly followed by the other.

They stood there for a brief moment, each one seemingly wondering what just took place, then one turned to the other, looking annoyed, as if to say, "I told you it wasn't safe to land over there!"  What followed seemed to me then to be an argument, but which I now realize was something quite different.  Both birds became very animated, bristling their neck feathers, raising their crest and wings and parrying with their bills like two sword fighters.  Even their beaks became flush with more intense blues and oranges.  They may have been making sounds, but I was too intent on filming the event to notice.  However, thinking back, I don't believe they made any noise.  With each standing it's ground, they weaved their heads and necks back and forth with their bills open.  At times, one's bill would almost be inside the other's. 

Just as suddenly as it started, it broke off and the two just stood there.  Silent.  Looking out over the river.  Then, I didn't see what instigated it, but they started back at each other one more time and this second ritual lasted as long as the first and ended just as abruptly.  After standing there for a time, ignoring each other, one began looking around as if it hoped it might find a stray frog or dragonfly.  Then the pair took off, this time flying far downriver, as I had expected them to do earlier.

Looking at the time code from my camera, the ritual, from the time they had landed until they left, had taken almost exactly eighteen minutes, but felt more like an eternity.

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