Birds are pairing off already, as this couple of cardinals demonstrates. This usually begins soon after February 2, that magic day when winter changes over to spring and all the creatures feel the stirring of the cycle.
On several different occasions in the spring I had seen a male cardinal run off to the feeder to get a sunflower seed and bring it back to his lady, offering it with a bow. Honestly, I’m not anthropomorphizing (interpreting animal activity by human traits), because I later read in an article about birds that this is a ritual that cardinal couples undertake during courting.
I wrote a poem about it after reading the explanation. Happy Valentine’s Day.
He doesn’t have to give this gift to her
and she doesn’t have to receive it
as she could easily feed herself
but she perches on a fallen branch
while he flies to the feeder
grasps a sunflower seed
and flies back to perch next to her;
they tilt their heads as if to kiss
as she accepts this seed of his love,
the bright red cardinal’s first act of courtship
to his dark red mate
on Valentine’s Day.