Horror or Sci-Fi Movie Character?
The noise was totally foreign to my ears! I bird as much by sound as sight and when you’re sitting in a blind, the sound is everything so this really had me intrigued. It kept coming from behind some bushes, at the base of which were some Bronzed Cowbirds. Not being a cowbird fan, I ignored them as I looked for the source of the noise. Then I saw a cowbird launch in the sky 4-5 feet and do an aerial display that left me totally dumbfounded. Critters, they are simply bloody amazing and teach me something new all the time. And like usual, brought on a new challenge in visual storytelling!
The actual aerial display lasts perhaps 10 seconds and it seemed, always a bit secluded. I saw it happen a few more times before I started to figure out the pattern. It was only then once I figured that out did I have a prayer of capturing it because it was so brief and hidden. It’s that old, combining biology with technology equation. What you see above is the indication the male is about to launch. He has an unattentive female he wants to impress. He starts by “puffing” up and strutting a tad. Then he launches straight up, flapping his wings as fast as he can. The was the source of the mysterious sound!
He hovers in the same spot, not really turning, for a brief time watching the female below him the whole “flight”. He makes no calls, just has the sound of his wings to grab her attention. I was able to photograph the flight numerous times (The D5 / 800mm shutter slamming on CH!). One time the male was sideways to me and you can see the incredibly iridescence in their wing when they do that. And it was not until that night when I looked at my photos did I notice just how alien they looked doing the display! With their head down, their bill looks foreign and those red eyes! Oh my, darn spooky and also so cool. I was hooked and for the rest of the week, constantly looking for the behavior thinking the entire time, it was from horror or sci-fi movie!
And once he lands, did it make an impression? You tell me.
You can see and photograph this and a whole lot more on our Texas Bird Extravaganza Workshop in 2020. Come and join us!