Exploring the sex life of birds and their wide range of mating and parenting habits, Bird Love gives you a detailed insight into bird family life.
Discover the amazing array of courtship techniques employed by birds around the world, such as ospreys bringing gifts of food in exchange for sex, male skylarks performing aerial acrobatics to impress females, or long-tailed widowbirds showing off their tails to advertise the quality of their genes.
Finding a prime nesting location is paramount, and the skills to build a safe nest in which to raise young can be just as attractive as having extravagant plumage. Security matters too — even to the extent of female hornbills who seal themselves in to their tree hollow nests, relying on their mates to deliver food through a narrow slit.
But it’s not all about males seeking to impress or dominate females: sex roles can be reversed, and the book includes examples such as the black coucal, whose females leave the males to perform all childcare duties. The limited availability of nest holes for the eclectus parrots of Melanesia means that females fight each other to secure a home, and the winner may have up to seven mates.
Varying levels of parental care are revealed, from both parents having to provide constant care to allowing an insurance chick to die to ensure at least one survives. And either sex can desert the nest in search of further matings to secure another clutch of chicks and the continuation of their family line.
Brood parasitism, where birds such as cuckoos and cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, takes absentee parenting to the extreme and the book explores how these species have evolved to delegate all parental care. Alongside, it also shows how host species have cleverly developed a wide range of tactics to defend their nests and their own families.
The essential insight to bird family life, Bird Love is richly illustrated with stunning colour photographs, and regular Backyard Bird boxes in each chapter showcase familiar species from around the world.