Birds and the Bees (and Crabs)

Niantic, CT, USA -- 31 May 2007 | Permalink
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I spent a delightful Memorial Day weekend (thank you for asking) taking pictures of wild turkeys. One hen turkey was followed everywhere by ten or eleven tiny poults, which had a tendency to lose themselves in the long grass — the sight of one little chick after another exploding out of the vegetation, flapping furiously in an effort to keep up with mother reduced us to helpless hysterics every time. Meanwhile, a brace of toms paid court to her unmarried sister, with much fluffing of feathers and furious gobbling.

Later, we went down to the marsh and watched the horseshoe crabs mating. There's something amazing about watching creatures whose basic design hasn't changed much in the last three hundred and fifty million years having sex at your feet. The feeling is almost vertiginous, like opening a window onto the past. Set the dials of your time machine for a destination three thousand times further from the present day than the time at which our earliest ancestors took on the form that we now think of as human; look down, and you'll see horseshoe crabs that look essentially the same as they do now. Now that's staying power.