The first three images came from Ediz Hook in Port Angeles. Then about ten miles away I took these photos of other Long-tails showing off their tales. All are males with tails. Can they be doing anything except trying to shame one another? Insecure males from Hemingway to Trump have been fixated on appendage size…and in this duck it seems to be in the genes, or at least the courtship culture. My tail’s bigger than yours…
Birds of North America online offers little enlightenment about this species’ courtship behavior: “Information on mating system scarce. Serial and/or long-term monogamy. Site fidelity of male and female to breeding grounds suggests long-term monogamy is possible… Pair formation in winter not based on territory, so mate choice based on individual choice and/or competition.”
Biggest tail or most erect tail or most elegant tail wins?
We saw these birds on my recent trip for Golden Gate Audubon to the northwest corner of Washington.