Saturday, September 26, 2015
The Birds and the Bees: Aquatic Warbler
An Aquatic Warbler appears as a simple brown bird when seen in a glance through binoculars, resembling that of thousands of other simple brown bird species in the Old World. Only those who know more about the warbler’s odd mating habits would be inclined to take a longer look at this Old World LBJ.
Next time you see one of these little cute suckers, don't be fooled by that adorable warbler-ly face. Aquatic Warblers are anything but innocent. It all begins with the species' extreme promiscuity, with some broods being fathered by up to five different male Aquatic Warblers. Add in the mega-sized warbler genitalia that would make any passerine jealous, factor in the marathon average mating time of 24-minutes, cube by the frequent inseminations during copulation, and you've got the nymphomaniacs of the bird world.
It all starts with this curious warblers' sexual habits. With female Aquatic Warblers going rampant with males, males sticking with the females for a larger length of time have a greater chance of their genes making it into the next nest. Cue the huge warbler glomerula, record-breaking mating times, and a very unique bird that most birders are oblivious to.
SCHULZE-HAGEN, K., LEISLER, B., BIRKHEAD, T. R. and DYRCZ, A. (1995), Prolonged copulation, sperm reserves and sperm competition in the Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola. Ibis, 137: 85–91. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1995.tb03223.x