Bird Bonding

Date: 2015-02-18 21:42:19 | Category: Bird Watching | Author: David Cole

"For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day
When every foul cometh ther to choose his mate."


"Each little bird this tide
Doth chose her beloved peer,
Which constantly abide
In wedlock all the year."


"Oft have I heard both youth and virgin say
Birds choose their mates, and couples too, this day;
But by their flight I never can divine,
When I shall couple with my Valentine."


So it is springtime, or late winter, and the poets of old would have you believe that on one day birds select their mates – but for how long – and what is the divorce rate?

Take Swans. They are symbols of enduring love, immortalised in story, song and poetry.

Everyone knows that swans mate for life, staying faithfully together until one dies.

Or do they?


The heart-warming image of these love birds has been shattered by veterinary researchers who using DNA say that swans are nothing more than feathered philanderers. Males in particular enjoy flitting from one nest to another for trysts with a string of females.

Not many of us get swans on our bird tables, so try studying more familiar bird couples – collared doves and members of the pigeon family seem to have a well deserved reputation for being faithful spouses. The couple in my picture have had the same ‘pair bonding’ (as scientists like to call bird relationships) for the past three years. However my bird table does support a few Dunnocks – and the less said about the hanky-panky under the bushes the better!

Collared Dove

The best documented record of bird fidelity is for the Albatross – in one couple’s relationship the female has been raising her single annual youngster from the same father for more than sixty years.

Abatrosses are a bit thin on the ground for our bird tables – but please feel free to let TWOOTZ know of any heartwarming stories of avian affection that you have noted……