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Birds do it. Bees do it.

Even educated fleas do it.

Let’s do it. Let’s fall in love.

Cole Porter

“I canoodle. You canoodle. He, she and it canoodles. We canoodle. You guys canoodle. Birds canoodle,” I tra la.

“What?” My corgi Millie looks up at me with eyebrows cocked, deeply grinning. After deciding my vocalizing is not a prelude to a crunchy treat, she continues her passionate inspection of the sidewalk for a chicken bone left beside a cabbie’s lunch stop.

Let’s face it, May is the month for canoodling. But I vote for making May the month for anthropomorphizing as well. Mother may I?

Birds “doing it” is mysterious. Most people, I imagine, don’t understand how it works. I don’t really understand it myself.

“Millie, do you know?” Her ears flutter, but a smashed takeout container beckons scrutiny.

For amusement, I’ve considered standing on a street corner asking passersby, “How do you think birds ‘Do it?’” but haven’t cranked past mastering my own embarrassment (or risking incarceration) to publicly ask the question! “Do birds fall in love?” And then, if they do, “How?”

If you haven’t gathered, “Doing it” is a euphemism. Since birds aren’t “doing” a Jules Feiffer Interpretive Dance for Spring, they’re just “doing it,” I think it’s only fair to leave the euphemism euphemistic.

But, “How?”

If a firebrand of a male Cardinal is belting out his two-note cadenza, there’s a blushing female not far away.

The Blue Jays’ connubial ruckus, tree to tree, street to street, seems never-ending.

A duo of crows playfully necking on a water tower speaks of nookie past or nookie to come.

Two Mourning Doves brushing shoulders on a tree branch inspire snuggling under a comforter.

Gulls stand on each other’s backs like a Chinese massage.

The marathon nocturnal serenades of a Mockingbird troubadour can only be interpreted as ardent. Yet, does this impersonator’s repertoire of songs telegraph that he’s really an interspecies metrosexual?

A battalion of skateboarders barrels by, dampening the mood. Millie lunges with her canine, “Stop it!” Millie is not all hearts dotting her i’s.

It sounds so romantic hearing about geese or swans or eagles pairing for life. Two summers ago, the Hudson River Park Canada Goose pair who were inseparable from their gosling quartet were certainly devoted. Are they the same pair that already hatched six feather balls this year? (Only corgi puppies are cuter than fresh goslings.) There are tales of birds mourning the loss of a mate – at least their haunting calls sound like mourning to us. A pair of eagles locking talons a mile in the air and freefalling in tandem conjures up an adrenaline-junkie’s high, but are those the palpitations that they feel? (No, I haven’t seen eagles in such ecstasy above the West Village. Or, eagles at all, for that matter, above the West Village.)

On my walks at any time of the day or year, Millie’s fairly certain to interrupt a pigeon pair courting or a sparrow ménage a trois sparring. Pigeons are the avian champions of strutting on the sidewalk – he puffed up like an overstuffed canoli, she always a few bobbling steps ahead (well, not always, of course.) Cobblestones, curb, fence rail, windowsill, lamppost, cornice – all seem equally comfy petting parlors. A city block is a veritable red light district for pigeons. Maybe pigeons’ lack of inhibition canoodling in public contributes to their success as a species?

Sparrows are in constant amorous wrestling matches with no time-outs. I’ve seen apparently randy male/female and male/male face to face skirmishes on the sidewalk, one pinning the others back to the concrete. (That solves the tail-getting-in-the-way obstacle.) Is this love or just bullying feathersticuffs?

One of my prize sightings is of the 16th Street Peregrine Falcon pair having a moment of intimacy stories above 11th Avenue, perhaps inspired by Harold Lloyd inching along a ledge in Safety Last, the wind over the Hudson whooshing through their already ruffled feathers. Is it getting warm out here?

For a cold shower, the aquatic frolicking of Mallards and Gadwalls is, likewise, not for the faint-hearted. Their head-bobbing will-you-go-to-the-prom-with-me ritual is entertaining, even vaudevillian, in its synchronous choreography, but then the underwater deed leaves the voyeur (and her) gasping for breath.

A Starling feather careens across the sidewalk – fluttering away in a come-hither tumble. Millie accepts the invitation for a romp. Isn’t that what love is?

Alan Jay Lerner concurs, “Tra la! It’s May! The lusty month of May!”


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