Courtship at the Box
Since mid-February we have observed the male and female strengthen their pair bond through ledge displays, a form of ritualized courtship behavior. The display in the video below was captured on March 4th and takes place at the nest box. Watch as the female follows the male into the box, and both then engage in what is known as the ‘horizontal head-low bow’ display, vocalizing all the while. In this display, the birds crouch into a horizontal posture, facing one another, with their heads pointing downward. Occasional ‘billing’ is seen, with the birds touching their beaks together. The display intensifies as the male, on the left, cocks his tail so that it is in line with his body, before flying out of the box.
Ledge ceremonies such as these take place at prospective nesting sites, where the male has typically formed a ‘scrape’ in available debris. The scrape at the box is a shallow, bowl-shaped depression in the gravel, and can be seen on the left side of the box, toward the back. The female will ultimately choose where to lay her eggs. Based on the behavior that we have seen so far, the box is definitely under consideration!