By Anne McCrary Sullivan
When the male anhinga’s bright blue eye ring comes,
when he displays his fine feathers, raising his tail,
waving the wings, she begins to pay attention.
Then they swoop and glide together
near the nesting area—preen together, lifting
and fluffing feathers, rubbing each other’s bills.
But they are not a pair until he finds the perfect
twig, offers it to her and she accepts.
Last year we saw him offer a twig, and she took it. Even as we were all saying “Ahhh …” she lifted that stick and hit him in the head with it, flew away.
Acceptance means something. And when she does
accept, they become monogamous in a bond that lasts several years. What I haven’t been able to learn
is how they go about separation. Is it mutual, a sort of inherent
biological timing? Or does one just leave? And for the other,
is there grief?