SUPER early start for me today. AND, I’m far from a ‘morning person’. so what dragged me kicking and screaming from a super comfy bed and restful sleep you may ask?
Hmm. Pin Tailed Whydahs. Not endemic to Singapore. Escapees. Probably have Permanent Resident status by now. So many might think, as mere escapees, WhyDah Heck would you want to go photograph this. Haha.I guess it’s about beauty. And behaviour that’s awesome to watch and compelling to photograph. “Whydah” is actually pronounced ‘widder’, phonetically, though you’d never know that from how it is spelled.
Pin Tailed Whyndahs have elaborate mating rituals which may make one imagine that parenthood is taken seriously. It is taken seriously… these responsibilities are seriously DELEGATED to a surrogate pair of birds. I.E. the Whydah parents lay their eggs in the nests of other hapless birds, who then proceed to take on the parental duties and responsibilities of the Whydah, on a surrogate basis, and akin to the behaviour of a cuckoo.
The mating process is systematic and whilst appearing wonderfully romantic given the elaborate displays that the male Whydah performs before females, actually has circumstantial process steps that either enable, or prevent, mating from taking place.
The ritual performed by the male Whydah is jaw-droppingly elaborate and joyous to witness, as flight patterns that are not typical of birds are performed with adeptness that defies all but spiritual consideration.
Laws of physics and as an extension flight, appear to be subordinated to mere ‘considerations for other birds’, as the male performs manoeuvres that defy logic and feed the optic nerve with sensorial bliss for the onlooker. Dips and dives, with plumage a flutter – never a stutter, as descents are traded for ascents, a flick of the tail and gravity assailed.
Only when the female has located suitable surrogate parents will she give herself to the male, and it is at this point that all that motion splendid aerial posturing may be even entertained, let alone considered.
Furthermore, the male is then further vetted for suitability based on its choral mimicry ability – he has to be able to imitate the surrogate parents’ calls, in order to ensure the surrogate nest is not abandoned once egg placements has occurred.
When the female is satisfied that the male can suitably match up to all these criteria, then a mating session occurs and unwitting surrogate parenting ensues from unsuspecting birds of carefully selected species.
What a convoluted process to procreate. One might say the male is led on ‘a merry dance’. And after procreation and the mating season ends, those resplendent tail feathers that provide such motion to the dance of passion, merely are shed until next breeding season.From my perspective, witnessing and capturing this display surpasses mere merriment and paints the sky with an aerial ballet that is lacking purely in the absence of music.
This music has crescendos, grace, an enveloping quality that simply draws you in and caresses your senses.
A male Pin Tailed Whydah’s display grabs me like that too. So WhyDah Heck would I get up so early before work to photograph this bird? Well now you know… and here’s some closer shots from earlier that morning… Happy Days.
Pin Tailed Whydah, Punggol, Singapore, April 2015.