Behind the Lens
How does this dance look to the lady bird?
It’s incredible how different it looks from above. You just see a black oval instead of a ballerina with a tutu on. The iridescence of the breast shield is so much brighter because it’s catching the light from above. We also saw a bright patch on the back of the head we didn’t know was part of the mating display. That was a real wow moment.
Where’s the dance floor?
The bird picks a place with a horizontal perch where females can watch, and he removes leaves. He clears the area daily—about six feet across—so he can dance without falling over things.
Did the bird meet with success?
Matings are rare. During the two weeks we worked on these shots, the male had no luck.