From Courtship to Relationship- by Fabiola Forns


Anhinga courtship (Anhinga Anhinga) could be extremely amusing and very fast, as we were able to witness this past Saturday morning at Shark Valley, West entrance to Everglades National Park, while there on a Miami-Dade College photography class.
There had been some action, especially with Purple Gallinules that were very abundant and in plain view, some Snowy Egrets and Tricolored Herons dancing the water, the invariable and always present great Blue Herons.
It is breeding time for many of them, even a big alligator was rumbling calling for a mate. Early for them, but this year, the water level at the park is on the high side, accelerating some things.

A male Anhinga was doing his ritualistic wing dance to attract a female. Sure enough, this beautiful female answer and flew in. Some of us were standing right in front of the nest, that had just fledged two big female chicks, still hanging around the area, not missing a beat.

The first few kisses, full breeding plumage.
The first few kisses, full breeding plumage.

Well, it was love at first site and they proceeded to kiss and fence and celebrate the beauty of the day and the getting together. A couple of minutes later, they mated and, as expected, he climbed down the tree and brought a beautiful green branch, to her absolute delight
Getting to know each other
Getting to know each other

The actual moment of the first mating.
The actual moment of the first mating.

One more branch and another mating, before things settled and the nest was officially inaugurated. Let us hope that they can produce healthy chicks and no cold front gets in their way. It will be a beautiful location to photograph, just across the narrow canal, and as branchy as you can expect from a nest.
The first branch after copulation.
The first branch after copulation.

Feeling newlywed pride.
Feeling newlywed pride.

A new branch for the belle.
A new branch for the belle.

It was a privilege to witness the beginning of a new cycle of life.