More from Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl. Hooded Warblers are small yellow, green and black songbirds who spend the summer in North America and winters in Mexico and Central America.
These birds take part in all manner of homosexual and alternate-heterosexual family arrangements. Heterosexual pairs rarely build nests, but when two males get together they build one together. Sometimes they raise eggs that have been parasitically laid in their nest by a Cowbird. Male pairs also adopt eggs that have been abandoned by a female Warbler, or they shack up with another male after the female leaves; up to 50% of heterosexual pairings lead to this kind of “divorce”. There are also three-way partnerships in addition to pairs, but despite this superficial monogamy (or binogamy) over a third of Hooded Warbler young were fathered by males playing away from their partners. Single parenting is also common.
Plumage transvestism (i.e. females having some degree of male plumage and therefore a transgendered appearance) is also very frequent. This ranges from having a few black feathers on the head like a male to being visually indistinguishable from a male. In this species males are mostly the only ones who sing, but some of the transvestite females are able to sing as well.
Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina)
Homosexuality: Male Transgender: Transvestism Behaviours: Pair-bonding, Parenting Ranking: Moderate Observed: Wild
(See It’s Gay Animal Fortnight for an explanation of this box.)
Next time on Gay Animal Fortnight… gay pride march of the Penguins
Original Hooded Warbler image from Wikipedia Commons.