Catching the fleeting scenes of many splendored life with a camera.
'Look closely. The beautiful may be small' — Kant

8 April 2013

Spring Sketches. Mainly Birds

The Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), the most widespread species of swallow in the world, is a passerine bird with blue upperparts, a long, deeply forked tail and curved, pointed wings. It is common in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Their cheerful warbles and flutter fill the air with joy.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) perched on a reed
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica). (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

Three Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica). (© 2013 LightColourShade, by-nc-nd)

Two Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica). (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) (aka shag) is widespread in much of the Old World and the Atlantic coast of North America. It's a big black seabird with beautiful emerald green eyes.
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) perched on birch tree
 (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) preening feathers on its breast
 (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

Drifting on a raft.

Red eared sliders on a raft. (by-nc-nd)

The Long-tailed Tit or Long-tailed Bushtit (Aegithalos caudatus rosaceus) is a common insectivorous bird found throughout temperate northern Europe and Asia, into boreal Scandinavia and south into the Mediterranean zone.
It inhabits deciduous, mixed and riverine woodland, scrub, bushes (where and hedges, in farmland, and even parks and gardens.

Long-tailed Tit, Long-tailed Bushtit (Aegithalos caudatus rosaceus) on a twig

Long-tailed Tit, Long-tailed Bushtit (Aegithalos caudatus rosaceus). (by-nc-nd)

The Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus or Parus caeruleus) is a small, usually non-migratory, passerine bird in the tit family Paridae, that feeds preferably on insects and spiders or seeds and other vegetable-based foods outside the breeding season.
Blue tits are widespread throughout temperate and subarctic Europe and western Asia, inhabiting deciduous or mixed woodlands.
Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus, Parus caeruleus). (by-nc-nd)

The Iberian Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) is a small migratory, mainly insectivorous (it feeds on spiders, ants, bees and even arthropods), passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family, that breeds in most of Europe and western Asia and winters mainly in western Africa.

If what scientists claim is true, it turns out this species practices a curious humanlike polygyny, usually bigamy, with the male travelling large distances to pick a second mate. The male will mate with the secondary female (lover) and then return to the primary female (wife) in order to help to raise offspring.
Some males are "responsible" enough to provide for both mates if the nests of the primary and secondary female are close together or "once the offspring of the primary female have fledged."
The males set up multiple nest sites to attract a second female for mating, typically some distance from the site of the primary female.
Similarly to human females, some females tolerate wandering husbands while others (with more dignity) manage to maintain monogamous relationships. Obviously, the "lawful wife" has an advantage over the "concubine" and consequently single mum. Not surprisingly, "scientists found that monogamous and primary females benefited significantly more from the male in terms of parental care than polygynous females did. " (Wikipedia)
Just like their human counterparts European Pied Flycatcher males also practice  extra-pair copulations (EPC), that is, they play around and sow their wild oats. However, females are not usually cool with EPC — some will resist the copulation at the risk of injury due to the male’s aggression. A couple can even divorce, each moving back to his / her previous nesting site.
One hypothesis maintains that "females settle for polygyny because it is hard to find unmated males" (yeah, males are already born mated, but since they supposedly mate with females of the same species isn't it logical to deduce that it should be just as hard to find unmated females?), so there is aggression between females to find mates. O, how all this sounds familiar!
Since it is believed that males seek farther secondary territories because they can hide their marital status, it helps to reduce aggression between the primary and secondary females. "Primary females display aggression and prevent other females from settling near the initial nest to ensure that they acquire the male parental care". What woman would put up with her cheating husband's lover living nearby? Cuckold females were reported to visit the second territory and thrash the adulteress. The greater distance between the nests, the fewer the raids on the rival.
"The results of the study suggest that the males can control multiple territories and are thus able to dupe females into accepting polygyny, while understandably the females do not have enough time to discover the marital status of the males. It is also important for the primary female to be able to detect an intruding female as soon as possible, because the longer the intruder has been present in a territory, the more difficult it will be to evict the female."  (Wikipedia). Female pied flycatchers can identify the songs of their own mates and check if they are two-timing.

Doesn't all that ring a bell? I wonder if the scientists were actually studying birds.

This one is female, although it's hard to tell whether it's a "wife" or a "lover".

European Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca). (by-nc-nd)

The European Greenfinch, or just Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris), is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. This bird is widespread throughout Europe, north Africa and southwest Asia. It is mainly resident, but some northernmost populations migrate further south.

European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris). (by-nc-nd)

The White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba) is a small insectivorous passerine bird in the wagtail family Motacillidae breeding in much of Europe and Asia and parts of North Africa. It is resident in the mild zones, but otherwise migrates to Africa.
The bird prefers bare areas for feeding and nests in crevices in stone walls or similar structures. It's easy to see them in urban areas foraging on paved areas.
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba). (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

The Common Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) is an Old World migratory insectivorous passerine warbler in the grass warbler genus Locustella that breeds across much of temperate Europe and Asia and winters from northwest Africa to India.
This species is very difficult to see since it blends into grass and low foliage.
Common Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia).
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

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