Nor­mal mat­ing be­hav­iour?

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

Have you got a ques­tion about your lo­cal patch or bird iden­ti­fi­ca­tion? Email your ques­tion to bird­watch­ing@ bauer­me­ We live on the edge of the wood­land in the For­est of Dean. Last week, I was able to ob­serve a pair of Chif­fchaffs court­ing (in a Hazel shrub). I spot­ted a third lurk­ing about six feet lower down the tree. It was watch­ing the pair very closely, but was un­usu­ally still and silent, drawn up against the tree trunk, as if hid­ing. When the fe­male sig­nalled she was ‘ready’, this third bird flew straight to her, mated, and flew off as quickly as he had ar­rived. This hap­pened in a split sec­ond, be­fore the fe­male or ‘le­git­i­mate’ male had re­alised what was go­ing on. I am not sure the fe­male even knew she had been mated by this gate-crasher. It seems to me this is a clever strat­egy for un­at­tached male birds. Does it hap­pen of­ten? Lynne May­ers, Glouces­ter­shire

QLet­ting an­other male do all the work be­fore swoop­ing in and tak­ing the prize seems to be a fairly com­mon method used by males who may not oth­er­wise be able to win in the com­pe­ti­tion for a fe­male’s af­fec­tions. We’ve cer­tainly heard of this be­hav­iour in Dun­nocks be­fore now, and sim­i­lar ‘cheat­ing’ meth­ods of mat­ing have been recorded among such species as Black­birds and Great Tits.


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