Least Tern Courtship (from June)

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Back in June, in the middle of our house construction nightmare, I managed to slip away for a quick morning of Least Tern Courtship.  It was such a relief to go to the quiet beach and feel the cool breeze as I watched these amazing birds.  They had recently arrived back in Florida for the nesting season, and they were looking for mates for a new season of nesting.

When you are a tern, the key to attracting a mate is having a good fish.  The male brings in a fish and presents it to his prospective mate, as proof of how well he can provide for her and for the babies that may follow.  When a female accepts the male, she takes his fish and then they get busy getting ready for their family.  But sometimes the female already has a mate, or just doesn’t like her  suitor…

A Fish to Share!
A Fish to Share!

This male flew in right in front of me with a nice fish.  He was all spiffy in his breeding plumage, he had a nice fresh fish, and he had his eye on a mate.

Do You Want My Fish?
Do You Want My Fish?

He presented it to his prospective mate, who eyed his his offering with guarded interest.

It's Really Yummy!
It’s Really Yummy!

So he danced around her, showing off his fish.  “See, it’s really good!  Don’t you want a bite?”

Let Me Take a Look
Let Me Take a Look

The female did seem to consider his offering, but then she walked away.  The male trotted behind her, fish in mouth, as if to ask why he was being so rudely rejected…

Wait, Where Are You Going?
Wait, Where Are You Going?

The male tried again, showing off his fish and begging the female to reconsider.  She continued to snub him.

Didn't You See the Really Great Fish?
Didn’t You See the Really Great Fish?

So he got annoyed and flew off.  Look at the expression of surprise and dismay on his lady friend’s face!

Fine!  I'll Give It To Someone Else
Fine! I’ll Give It To Someone Else

You’ll have to wait for my next blog entry to hear the continuing story of these two lovebirds…

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