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December 17, 2014

Duck Chase

We can see in this video that some aggressive looking chasing is going on between the mallards behind the Cornell Feeders. During nonbreeding season, both males and females engage in threatening, pecking, and brief chasing, on land or water, in feeding flocks, and in disputes over favored resting sites. Overt aggression by males is frequently associated with pair formation and mate defense in wintering flocks and territory defense early in breeding season. On both water and land, the male gives an open-bill threat, rushes at the opponent with head held low, chases by running, and pecks or bites the opponent. Fighting involves breast-to-breast pushing, opponents’ bills pointing down in front; frequently resulting in denuded patches on the males’ breasts during pairing disputes in winter. At high intensities, blows are also struck with wings, and circular fighting may occur, as we can see in this clip. On territory boundaries, evenly matched males rush along flapping over water, side by side. 

December 17, 2014

High Flying Squirrel

Do you think this grey squirrel believes it is a smaller flying squirrel? All the feeders in the feeder garden have squirrel baffles/ guards. To get around these this squirrel launches himself from a cable over 10ft away from the feeder, 10ft or so off the ground and lands on the squirrel proof feeder. It is a constant troubleshooting task trying to lower squirrel activity on the feeders. 

December 17, 2014

Mallard Courtship

Initial alliances between male female pairs are usually temporary in mallards, but can occur, however their pair bond is tested during competitive courtship, agonistic encounters and copulations. This clip shows a pair performing nonfertilizing copulation, which is often associated with pairs in October- November, when gonads are inactive. New pair bonds form in wintering flocks each year. Pair copulation occurs while the birds are swimming and is preceded by mutual head-pumping and followed by postcopulatory bridle, steam and turn back of head displays by the male. These activities are key indicators of a pair bond forming. Females stimulate males to give displays by nod swimming, they can then indicate their preference for a male by following him and displaying beside him. Females prefer males showing high courtship activity and good plumage quality. Male courtship skills improve with age. 

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