Horned Grebe  in breeding plumage

Horned Grebe
in breeding plumage


Zenith Arc
My Sunrise Sadhana

April 25th: Day #21

So many signs of courtship on my walk this morning…

After days of poor wooing weather, we have a beautiful, clear & calm morning, perfect for serenading, and the Robins and Cardinals and Chickadees and Song Sparrows are out in force, singing with every once of libido in their bodies.

On Lake Harriet, the Loons are calling; Horned Grebes are parading about, dressed to impress the ladies; and the Red Breasted Mergansers, taking a very proactive approach, are engaged in their erratic, but presumably erotic, courtship displays…

Red Breasted Merganser

Red Breasted Merganser


Their display includes stretching the neck and bobbing the head, wing flapping, crest raising and tail cocking.   To see them in action, see this youtube:


The Terns and Herring Gulls were raising a ruckus, as usual, but I’m uncertain if that was courtship.


I did not take the pictures of the birds, but these were taken with my iPhone this morning:


IMG_0336 IMG_0339IMG_0363IMG_0337


A very fine mist that hung over the lake this morning cast pastel hues over everything.   Is was all very serene.

While watching the grebes, an older couple approached me, asking what the birds were.  As always, I was pleased to share (show off?) my knowledge about the natural world.   We talked for a bit, discussed how much more waterfowl there is on the lake this year than is typical.  They live in the area and have walked the lake for years, and had never seen Horned Grebes before.  We agreed that there were more Loons and ducks than ever.  In a few days, however, the Loons and Grebes and Terns and Mergansers will all be gone, continuing their migration to more northern nesting grounds.

In all, my experience this morning felt more like that of a remote wilderness lake, than our humble, but hallowed, Lake Harriet located in the middle of the metro area.






6 thoughts on “Courtship

  1. I am in the middle of manitoba canada and it looks like from what you are saying that the water birds are smart enough to stay south for now, as it is still colder than usual here. I few have arrived but they are faced with some ice left on most waterways and temperatures that are still going below zero celcius at night. Lovely blog…thank you 🙂

    • I had been wondering if it weren’t the long and drawn out winter that accounts for our being blessed with more amorous avian activity. : ) From what you say, sounds like this could well be true. Thanks for your comment!

  2. How very remarkable. Red breasted mergansers are my favorite waterfowl because of their antics and beauty. However, I’ve never witnessed this courting display before! I’m sure they’re not here during that particular time. They are so cute the way they hop into their dives, like penguins. Great post, Cnawan. I’ve been missing the waterfowl and freshwater lakes!

    • Very glad I could introduce you to something new about a favorite bird of yours! Before the sun rose I could only see them in silhouette, so had no idea what they were. In some ways their ritual was more striking that way. I’ve also always enjoyed watching the way mergansers leap into their dive – kind of like how a gymnast takes their dismount very seriously – this must be done with proper form.

      • Yes! The leaping into their dive is what I’ve witnessed – so very cool. I can only imagine seeing their courtship display in the gloom of morning. Surreal. Thanks again!

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