A Valentine’s love story

It’s the month of worshipping romance. Particularly the cis-het-monogamous variety. So it seemed a good time to publish another article for my Queer Ecology series.

I considered writing about anti-romance and desirability politics. And I have a lot to say about fetish and transmisogyny. But I did that already so instead here’s a polyandrous love-story about a little bird.

Dunnock_crop2 [images shows: A Dunnock sitting on a branch on a sunny day.]

Outside my window right now, in an elder tree trapped between a car park, brightly painted garages and a construction site, sits a little bird called a Dunnock who is singing the most beautiful song in the world.

Some say he’s not much to look at. You might not even notice him at first glance. He’s streaky and brownish and grey. The name Dunnock comes from Middle English meaning ‘little brown one’. His scientific name, Prunella modularis, means ‘melodic little brown one’. He is gorgeous. And his song is incredible.

His love life is also pretty fun.

Rare among birds, Dunnocks are into polyandry: One female with two males. The two males have a strict dominance hierarchy between themselves, they work together to protect the territory and they both sing that rapid, tinkling song that I love so much. The female has sex with both of them.

Sex is fast—one tenth of a second—but they make up for it by fucking as often as a hundred times a day.

Depending on things like food and weather and territory size, Dunnocks can also be polygynous (two females, one male), polygynandrous (several females, several males) and even, occasionally, monogamous. They are very versatile lovers.

Then, when winter comes, they get some alone time—important in any polyamorous lifestyle—and spend a few months by themselves hopping around in bushes just coming together when there’s something really interesting to eat.

If you live in Central Europe, the British Isles or New Zealand, if you have the possibility, go look for them. Explore gardens, parks or hedgerows. Listen out for their incredible song or look for the sexy little bird singing it. It will make your February, I promise.

More Queer Ecology here! And lots more in my transfeminist speculative fiction novel, Margins and Murmurations.

 

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