Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tender Gestures


The meaning of this photo is unmistakable although we know nothing about the context except that the birds are members of the same flock. It's clear that the lives of these birds are not just of struggle and strife, revolve not just around competition for food, for mates, for nest sites and territory....  but also allow unselfish tenderness.





Among Black-legged Kittiwakes trustful companionship

A featheris being passed like a gift between these two adult gannets, presumably the parents of the chick. Since it's not something edible and not used for lining a nest, does it have a symbolic meaning? Or am I perhaps overreaching? ----  Maybe he is just saying to her, "get rid of this feather" but the next photo seems to put the lie to that. Such tenderness and solicitude... 





These were among a large number of photos I took during a trip in June '09 to Helgoland, a North Sea island off the coast of Germany. It was a rare opportunity to observe the communal lives of Northern Gannets, Common Murres and Black-legged Kittiwakes. 


I recommend these books: "The Private Lives of Birds" by Bridget Stutchbury
                                       "The Exultant Ark - A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure" 
                                        by Jonathan Balcombe




I am thankful for having so many online birding friends. Thank you for stopping by. Please leave a comment. 

26 comments:

  1. Great post Hilke. I think you're right very little research over all has been done. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  2. Oh how sweet...I know that the strictly scientific might disagree but I think there is a lot about emotion that we don't understand. I've watching the birds and waterfowl in my yard and I've seen what looks like fun in the splashing of the mallards and the tender exchange of seeds in mate feeding..and I've seen the grieving of my neighbor's gander when he lost his mate...we aren't the only species on the planet though some of us act like it...Michelle

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  3. Sweet! Dont know if it means anything either..but super shots!

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  4. A wonderful post Hilke both to read and view your wonderful images.. xx

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  5. Hi Hilke

    A wonderful post I love to see the actual behavior of birds it can remind us they are both so similar and so different from us.

    Guy

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  6. beautiful photos, I'm often struck by the seeming tenderness of relationships between birds...

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  7. Every photo is touching but last one is my favorite.
    All those currycombing ( or preening , sorry, I don`t know a right word )and touches and contacts have meanings also to birds - it strengthens cohesiveness and we can speak freely about feelings. I have been awake the whole night few years ago, when I felt pain together with The Whooper Swan, Cygnus cygnus, who had lost his / her partner ( they have lifetime partnership ) It was heartbreaking to hear his/her grief songs. This bird flew around the lake and make this sad voice again and again the whole night. I never forget it - at least I had feelings.

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  8. All beautiful but the gannet photos are especially good. Lovely to get such great close-ups.

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  9. Wonderful birds and photos. Love the gannet shots.

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  10. Lovely photos, Hilke. Leena, your story touches me.

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  11. Such wonderful images. I am melting...

    I always try to achieve such images. Wish me luck.

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  12. Hi there - great set of pictures. I think the truth is we can never really understand what is going on inside the head of those birds. It may be tenderness, but it may be something about which we have no understanding at all. All we can be sure of is that the actions have some significance to the life of the bird.
    Cheers – Stewart M - Australia

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  13. Wow! Great close-up's! Nice work!

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  14. What wonderful photos of these pairs...especially the gannets and their precious chicks. Love this post.

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  15. What wonderful captures! The last shot is so touching!

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  16. Wonderful post Hilke! I often wonder if our emotions like love, tenderness, and loss have an equivalent in the bird kingdom. There is no question that beautiful images like these evoke those feelings in us. Thanks so much for pulling these photos out of your archive, the gannets especially, are among the most engaging photos I have ever seen. I will definitely find the "Secret Life of Birds," that sounds like something I would enjoy! Bravo!

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  17. gorgeous shots. And it sure looks like affection. :) I have not seen the gannets but I hope to next year. Your shots are stunning. :)

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  18. Thank you all for your wonderful thoughtful comments! Yes, we will never know what it feels like to be a bird. We are left to draw inferences from their behavior, cautiously, with an open mind. I believe though there is a small degree of freedom in their behavior, a tiny gap so to speak, not subject to the strict stimulus/response paradigm. I am sorry if it sounds confusing, but that's what I am after.

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  19. Oh my, what lovely captures. I do believe tenderness and caring occurs between our feathered friends.

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  20. the feather passing sure appears to be a symbolic gesture, like a blessing to the young ones. Beautiful colourings and markings; great photos

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  21. Thank You... for creating your blog, Hilke! Always good fotos/interesting thoughts and comments.
    - Deb Specht

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  22. Beautiful images of intimate moments. If you have read Konrad Lorenz on the monogamy of geese and that if one does stray, the mate fades away of sorrow, there surely are deeper feelings involved.

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  23. Hello, Hilke Breder.

     The graceful sense wraps your artworks.

     Thank you World-wide love and, encouragement.

    The traditional kimono children, it is celebrated growth.

    vivid colored leaves, in lovely atmosphere.

    The prayer for all peace.
    I wish You all the best.

    Have a good weekend.
    Greetings.
    From Japan, ruma ❀

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  24. What an incredibly beautiful post Hilke! After watching Red-shouldered Hawks raising their young and many cavity nesting birds, I realize that their is much more than instinct in play between mates especially. If you have ever seen a bird on the road standing next to it's partner that has just been struck by a car, you know what I mean.

    Beautiful photos by the way. The Northern Gannets are priceless!

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