Mating Season

Since I was five years old, I have dreamed of running away to Africa with a camera, where I would live for months among the animals taking their pictures.

It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that my favorite after school activity was watching nature programs on PBS, while having a snack in front of the TV. I wanted to be just like Jane Goodall, and I would sit for hours watching mourning doves or ground squirrels. Truth is I still have a journal of observations from stalking Canadian geese that lived in a pond at the school where my mother took classes.

When I had saved long enough to afford a Nikon D80, I decided to take the new camera for a spin and took a walk around my hometown of Chicago with my husband and our dog Stella. Our route took us to the corner of Wacker and LaSalle on the Chicago River, a favorite hangout for pigeons and a good place to shoot a favorite building of mine.

Luckily for me, the sun peeked through the early spring clouds as I reached the corner. The sun, close to setting, lit the building perfectly in hues of orange and red. I shot the building, but I soon turned my attention to the pigeons, which were everywhere and partly in my way. It was after watching the pigeons for just a second that it was clear this was mating season. My childhood love of animals and dreams of an African safari took over, and I turned my camera on the birds.

One male in particular caught my eye because he was relentless in trying to win over a certain female.This female didn’t seem to be anything special; her feathers where not silky or smoothed down. In fact, of all the birds there she looked kind of homely. While other males were wooing, jumping from girl to girl, this one had chosen this girl for himself. He was steadfast in his courting, fully willing to invest whatever time it took to tame his shrew. No other males paid this lowly-looking female any mind. Perhaps it proves each of us really only needs one true love.