Saturday, 6 December 2014

Courtship… And all you brought me were flowers?

Throughout the last couple of years I have been reading and learning about the various courtship rituals of other species. A lot of the stories that I have shared to date through the Alphabeasts series were themed in love or loss and they gave me a moment to really study these impressive rituals in depth. I have worked some these rituals into the narratives of my stories, but this week, I would like to share a few that are really beautiful, touching and inspiring to me…

The first is from the Japanese Puffer Fish that works tirelessly to create an underwater chef-d'oeuvre upon the ocean floor. The effort that it takes for his little fins brush away the sand and fight the currents to attract a female with the creation of his vision in the sand is beyond what you may imagine…

And from the seafloor to the seashore is a lifelong love story of feathers that truly soars… There are many bird species that are monogamous and have some special mating rituals, like the duet of the Great Hornbill, the cuddling of Lovebirds or the intricate dance of the Manakin. However, one of my favourites are the Albatross, as theirs is the most intense love affair as they will spend months apart… Their courtship ritual of clapping beaks, mirrored dance and cheerfully boisterous squawks make it hard not to smile. If you need a little sprinkling of happiness to your day, the exuberance of their squawks alone are sure to lift your spirits! The Albatross mate for life (a 50 year commitment) like many other birds. Interestingly, the courtship rituals of the albatross more resemble our own through a dating process of elimination as the strike partners from their dance cards from one year to the next. They will engage in preening, staring, dancing and vocalising which they learn from watching their elders slowly weeding out partners until they are left with the one true mate with whom they will spend the rest of their lives.

And lastly, is the Maratus volans or Peacock spider, who is aptly named for the colourful display like the tail feathers of the bird by the same name. Maratus volans (cue 3:30 for the full display) is an Australian species that has a dance routine similar to the Manakin. However, if the male spider fails to interest his female she’ll have him for diner!

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