"Things You Wouldn't Know If We Didn't Blog Intermittently."
I just noticed these photos of a pair of barn swallows on your blog. More photos from the same series are posted here:http://www.utahbirds.org/featarts/2009/SwallowStory.htm The page shows a healthy swallow accompanying a moribund and then dead second swallow that had been hit by a car. The page in question mentions that the bird's behavior is "probably much more common in the avian world than we would like to think." I agree, but I suspect whoever started spreading these photos misinterpreted the behavior as mourning. The healthy swallow was apparently trying to mate with the injured, and later dead, swallow. Male barn swallows will attempt to mate with dead swallows (Samuel 1971). This behavior has also been shown in ducks (Moeliker 2001), and perhaps other bird species as well.Happy Valentine's Day!Moeliker, C W. 2001. The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Aves: Anatidae). Deinsea 8:243-247.Samuel, D E. 1971. Field methods for determining the sex of barn swallows (Hirundo rustica). Ohio Journal of Science 71(2):125-128
Thank you! I just Googled Deinsea - looks like it would be an interesting journal.Since there's no (apparent) survival advantage to copulating with a dead mate, one would presume that it simply represents taking advantage of an opportunity, and implies that at least for those species death or impending death is not readily detectable by colleagues.Re the ducks, I had been aware of reports of gang rape, but not of necrophilia. Thanks.
Talk about ANTHROpomorphisizing! Now it seems (grimy) men are interested in using this story to be able to relate to. XD