Don’t you just admire the way male birds go about attracting mates? For most of the year they’re in nondescript plumage, but come breeding time and they sure do strut their stuff. Last week when visiting a friend on the other side of the peninsula, who has a bird feeder in her garden, we were entranced by the showy Red Bishop in his crimson hood and the Pin-tailed Whydah sporting ostentaciously long ribbon tail feathers. Very impressive accoutrements. Today at my end of the peninsula, I was happy to discover our largest bird is sporting another cue: sexy legs.
It had been raining heavily and you’ll notice that the black feathers appear tightly coiffed, while the white tail feathers look quite bedraggled. Interestingly the feathers are not oiled and hence they absorb water when it rains. The feet have only two toes, the larger with a long nail. Their powerful legs aid in defense by delivery of a lethal kick, or impressive running speeds help in escape. The courtship ritual involves a mesmerising dance sequence, with wonderful tail feather choreography. I’m hoping for a ringside seat for that show…. actually one needs to keep well away, ostriches are known to be volatile in the mating season.