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Outdoors: Drake dance


When I see a raft of ducks participating in courtship displays, all I can think of is the opening number of the Broadway show “A Chorus Line.”

You see, when the drakes dance, they actually are auditioning.

Most ducks form a pair bond with a different mate every year. The males audition, and the females do the choosing.

So the males dance their avian hearts out because they hope they get selected.

Most species pair up in the winter before they migrate, but we still see drakes doing their elaborate dances and it’s stunning.

I imagine an avian Zach calling out:
Head pump, pump pump, pump
Again, pump, pump, pump
Tails up; wings out.
Head-throw; Grunt–whistle.
Five, six, seven, eight

Okay, so ducks don’t need a choreographer.

They instinctively know the ritualized combinations that will attract a mate.

And each male wants to mate. He’s come this far, but even so, it could be yes, it could be no.

He is programmed to try to mate in order pass on his genes.

But after all the auditioning, the energetic dancing and the conspicuous flaunting of gorgeous plumage, the male duck plays little to no role in caring of the ducklings.

In fact, most male ducks abandon the female when she begins incubation or shortly after her eggs hatch.

The hen doesn’t dance, but she gets the job of being the parent

"Outdoors with Coggin Heeringa" can be heard every Wednesday on Classical IPR.