THE LESSER-SPOTTED REDCOAT
BIRD PORTRAITS - Series 1, by 'A.J' Marriot
This is a little piece I wrote during the
1973 season at Skegness,
The Lesser-Spotted Redcoat is found in seaside resorts between May and September only, whence it promptly disappears until the following year. During the season it is intent only on mating. In the daytime it involves itself in all kinds of energetic activities amongst the females of common or domestic birds. After twilight it becomes subdued, and is content to stay by its pre-selected partner. It gathers in a large, communal courtship area where it shows off its mate to other members of the flock. They perform a mating-dance ritual known as a 'smooch,' at the end of which each pair retires to its own nesting-box - known as a 'chalet.'
Until now, there has been little or no rivalry. If, however, on arriving at the chalet it is found to be occupied by another male, one of two things can happen:
Once a Redcoat has successfully mated it will completely ignore the female - unless, that is, the latter has proved itself to be exceptionally good. If this is the case, then the Redcoat will again mate with her, but for a maximum period of one week only as, after that, she is forced to return to her flock.
As soon as the female has departed, the male immediately begins to display to other females who have arrived to replace the ones who have left. So once again the Redcoat is seen strutting around his stamping ground, inflating his bright-red chest, and making inarticulate noises and gestures, until his antics are acknowledged by a newly-arrived female.
Some Redcoats realise that pairing off with a female of their own species allows them to mate for the full duration of the season, and eliminates the need for continual mating displays. This type of Redcoat is known as Cleverous Bastardo, and is discussed in 'Bird Portraits - Series 2.'
(Copyright: Marriot-Musing Inc. 1973)