Talk About the Feathers Flying!

Yet another report of homosexual behavior in animals, this time involving flamingos who’ve been together for more than five years and reared three generations of adopted chicks:

….Twice a year Carlos and Fernando perform an elaborate courtship dance together before stealing eggs from their heterosexual neighbours to bring up as their own…

Both of them take on the male roles during the courtship ritual which involves preening, strutting and waving their heads vigorously from side to side with their necks at full stretch…

Yeah, yeah, that’s hardly news. But what really caught my eye was this comma-deprived commentary from an ornithologist: “Their parental instincts are also very strong prompting them to raid the nests of other couples in the flock. They have been known to fight the heterosexual birds and there is usually a “handbags at dawn” moment where they will fight with another couple before stealing their egg.”

“Handbags at dawn”? This phrase was a new one on me. Fortunately, this entry from the OED online explains that “handbags at dawn” refers to “a confrontation, esp. on that is ineffectual or histrionic.” All I can say is that learning that phrase — and even better, seeing it applied to feuding flamingos — totally made my day.

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