AMERICAN AVOCETS are common here in our bay marshes and ponds. They come to the mudflats to catch insects and crustrations with those long curved beaks. Each year during the spring the avocet's striking black and white plumage is complimented by a orange head and neck as they seek mates for breeding. Sometimes the selection and pairing can be dramatic and entertaining to observe. Last week I paused to watch a pair of avocets feeding in the tidal mud -- when a third bird came up to the couple.
The pair stopped feeding as the stranger approached, and the male bird took a position between his mate and the intruder. A classic standoff developed like a chess game with moves and counter-moves as the two male birds confronted each other and the female looked on...
Eventually, with a frantic series of head bobs, flurry of feathers and athletic hops the intruder was rebuffed and was banished leaving the couple in peace to continue foraging for dinner. The drama lasted only a few minutes, but I imagine these confrontations occur daily until the chicks are born. Parenthood is like that: constant vigilance from the very beginning that continues until the chicks leave the nest.
Move on, buddy! Go bother someone else!