Working as a naturalist, I’ve received tons of calls about injured animals and thought I’d share some of my knowledge with you about handling situations with baby birds, since it’s the most common one.
Last week I posted a link to a live camera that has been filming the same hummingbird nest for several years. Two chicks were hatched in December, but just a couple days ago, something heartbreaking happened: mom didn’t return to the nest. After 20 hours of not seeing Phoebe, the mother hummingbird, a wildlife rehabilitator was called in to rescue the chicks.
Monique, the rehabber, delicately removed the entire nest and took it back to her home, where she’s raised orphaned hummie chicks in the past. Like most rehabbers, Monique doesn’t get paid to do this and according to the admins of the live cam page, the complex mix used to feed baby hummingbirds isn’t cheap. It’s not sugar water; it’s a mix of proteins and nutrients closer to what momma bird would regurgitate for babies. If you’re compelled to help Monique, you can donate to her through her website at http://mfrartwork.com/donate/ and browse her lovely artwork.
You can watch Monique trying to give the chicks a meal in the video below. It’s rather magical. Thanks for reading!
Today’s word is:
Pronounced: …lek. This one sounds like it looks!
Sciency Definition: A lek is a communal assembly area where members of certain species meet to carry on courtship behavior and impress the local ladies.
I could have said: Prairie Chicken party place! Musk Duck disco dance-off! Hermit Hummingbird ho-down! Capercaillie ass-kicking camp! (I could go on.)
What’s it do? A lek is a place of great testosteronal activity: males of species including ground-dwelling birds like Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) gather in one designated spot, performing mating displays and challenging each other. “Lek” is a word of Swedish origin, coming from the word leka which means “to play.” “Lekking” is the act of performing at a lek, which may also be called a “strutting ground.” Superior males get prime real estate in the lek, with lesser contenders lingering further towards the outskirts. Females visit to survey the selection and choose a mate. Pretty neat, huh?
Example sentence: I don’t have an example sentence today; all I can think about is a group of human males getting together in a big field to flap their arms and stomp their feet and make noise, while mildly-amused women stand off to the side, muttering to each other. I need some coffee.
You can check out an outstanding video here of Sharp Tailed Grouse lekking it up! It very well may be the coolest thing you see all week.
More for the super-nerds
Just wanted to share this snippet of an article talking about male courtship behavior in animals like peacocks, cardinals, or any other species whose males aren’t exactly camoflauged:
“Zahavi declared that male sexual characteristics only convey useful information to the females if these traits confer a handicap on the male.Otherwise, males could simply cheat: if the courtship displays have a neutral effect on survival, males could all perform equally and it would signify nothing to the females. But if the courtship display is somehow deleterious to the male’s survival—such as increased predator risk or time and energy expenditure—it becomes a test by which females can assess male quality. Under the “handicap principle,” males who excel at the courtship displays prove that they are of better quality and genotype, as they have already withstood the costs to having these traits.”