August – Mother’s Month

In Costa Rica, Mother’s Day is celebrated on August 15. The tradition is to go visit mother, take her a gift, invite her to eat, and pamper her a lot. It is common among mothers to behave like adolescent birds when they see all their chicks gathered, cackling with pure happiness. This behavior is also common in birds. The females of some species have marked maternal-affiliate behaviors towards their young. Even if the offspring are not hers, the Black-striped Sparrow female works tirelessly feeding an always hungry redeared Bronzed Cowbird. This cowboy species weighs about twice as much as the small adult finch weighs. It is considered a parasitic genera, in which the female cowbirds lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, in this case, the nest of the pinzona. Without moral judgments, the reproductive strategies of the birds are very varied.

With jacanas, a kind of aquatic bird of brilliant black and brown plumage with a yellow frontal patch, the difference is striking. The females with their spurs glistening on the wings, furiously defend a good territory like a lagoon, while several males build precarious floating nests on the water. If the nest meets the expectations of the female, she mates with the male and later deposits the eggs in its nest. The alleged father is left in charge of the incubation process and the care of the small early chicks. So she can repeat this with up to four males. The opposite case is that of the Magnificent Frigate bird, whose females are three times as fast feeding their chicks as the males, generating arguments and family conflicts, when the chicks grow more demanding, to the point of breakup of the couple. A lone female manages better than when accompanied by a slow male. Mothers of all kinds always fight in different ways for the benefit of their offspring. Long live biodiversity! Happy month to all the mothers, cowgirls, jacanas, frigates or pinzonas!

By Biol. Susana García Blanco

INFO: Biol. Susana García Blanco Costa Rica Birding B&B [email protected]

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