Friday, May 15, 2009

Bunting Battle

I observed two male Indigo Buntings engaged in a territorial battle at the entrance of the creek corridor trail this morning. The two birds would fly around in semicircles, perch within a few feet of each other, and then burst into a song of sweeping notes. The ensuing song duel never lasted very long before they gave chase again. Seemingly oblivious to me, this was a great opportunity to digiscope these beautiful blue little birds.

The two sometimes paused in what seemed like a mutual agreement for respite. Eventually, the two birds resumed hostilities. How long would the dispute last? I watched and photographed for at least a half an hour - even I felt a little fatigued by their rather aggressive antics.

The birds chased and sang, and chased and sang...

From Birds of North America:

"Early in the breeding season, shortly after arrival (and sometimes later when intruders enter the territory), mated males chase intruding males in their territory, giving buzzy cheet calls and supplanting them on perches. Some males grapple in the air and fall to the ground, feet engaged, one or both sing loudly and continuously (RBP). Males establish territory by singing and chasing neighboring males. Intruding males chased throughout the season. Older males sometimes replace younger males that arrive and settle earlier on their old territory. Males sometimes attempt to take over an occupied territory by chasing the resident; in these flights, the 'pretender' often sings more than the resident (Carey and Nolan 1979)."

Indigo Buntings © 2009 Mike McDowell

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