Found out what this means…

7 March 2011

Back in January I posted a photo by Marcy Cunkelman in which a female cardinal stood with one wing straight up as a male cardinal flew toward her.  This is a cropped version of that photo. Here’s the original.

Cardinals, juncoes, titmouse in snow (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)
Cardinals, juncoes, titmouse in snow (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

Many of us wondered what this wing message meant.  Well, I just found out.

Donald and Lillian Stokes call this behavior the “lopsided pose” in their Guide to Bird Behavior.  It’s a courtship display(!) in which a male or female cardinal tilts one side of its body up, raises its wing and exposes its belly.

According to Stokes, this is usually done within sight of the mate who is only a few feet away. Sometimes they both do it together but it happens so fast we don’t normally see it. 

So, despite appearances this doesn’t mean “Back off, buddy.” 

She’s saying “I love you!”

(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

One thought on “Found out what this means…

  1. I didn’t even see this happen until I looked at the photo…right click at the right time…I always learn something everyday and you taught me something NEW today…how did you find that bit of information?

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