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ASK OTUS FOR THIS INSTALLMENT OF 'HOW BIRDS DO IT,' THE GREAT EGRET PAIR ARDEA AND ALBA PUT ON QUITE A DISPLAY FOR MATURE AUDIENCES Dear Readers, As we reach this point in our story about how "birds do it," Ardea, the female Great Egret, is in full, drop-dead gorgeous mating regalia and has attracted the attention of Alba, among others. He is equally exquisitely groomed and too obviously crazy about her. It is embarrassing to describe what hoops a female bird requires the male to jump through before she accepts him as her mate. When human males, adolescent or adult, become love-struck, show off their prowess and strut their macho stuff, people remark behind their backs, "He's making an ass of himself." The phrase should really be, "He's making an Egret of himself." The wild ass is a model of courtly decorum in comparison with an egret. Why? Because the female ass when in estrus gladly makes herself available to the male. Ardea, lacking an estrus cycle, nevertheless has the exact same urgent primeval need to mate so her eggs will be fertilized and she can breed and brood. Alba warns away a Wood Stork. Photo courtesy of Rick Greenspun

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