Sunday April 14, 2013 Common Goldeneye Courtship

Seward Sporadic Bird Report

Love was in the air today, at least for one pair of COMMON GOLDENEYES. The resplendent green-headed male preened and fussed with his immaculate feathers. Thus prepared, he repeatedly stuck out his brilliant white neck and beeped, a cute and endearing sound. The female pointedly ignored him, often diving at the peak of the neck stretch. She then swam along behind him without any apparent interest.

The male then amped it up with vigorous neck throws that slammed his neck and head flat on his back with an amazing display of flexibility. That grabbed her attention! Suitably revved up, she cruised right up and beak open wide, nailed him in the rump. Ow! He immediately segued into a neck thrust, maybe more from surprise, and when she didn't let go, erupted into flight a short hop away. That shook her loose and got her into gear. They both took off, flying in tight formation down the bay. Quite a show!

The sunshine also illuminated two tiny BUFFLEHEAD males. An incredible rainbow iridescence surrounded the poufy white patch, where normally only black and white is seen. The two dainty females noticed, and each stuck close to her handsome beau. No further gyrations ensued while I watched; perhaps Bufflehead courtship is more subtle or they were not quite in the mood.

A pod of at least 5 Steller Sea Lions swam past; how cool to hear a sea mammal breathe!

SURF SCOTERS, a few BLACK SCOTER females, one WHITE-WINGED SCOTER male, BARROW'S and COMMON GOLDENEYES, HARLEQUINS, COMMON MERGANSERS, one GLAUCOUS GULL, GLAUCOUS-WINGED, HERRING, and hybrids GULLS bobbed in the waves and dove by Lowell Creek Beach and the seafood processing plant.

While watching the gull and sea duck show, I heard the long, high song of a PACIFIC WREN. So nice to hear his spring song of gratitude for surviving another long cold winter.

On the east side of the bay by Spring Creek Beach, a pair of AMERICAN WIGEONS dabbled just off the rocky beach. About 20 HARLEQUINS and a few COMMON MERGANSERS swam nearby. No sign of the Oystercatcher; I hope it's still around.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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