Ah, fleeting love! That is what the “Smith scribe” knows a lot (Calcarius pictus), a singing bird of North America. It is very similar to a goldfinch, and usually reproduces in Arctic lands. It is also a Casanova of the air, because it is the bird with the most active sex life in the world. It is clear that he is not bored.
In birds, mating strategies are mostly simple. The most common is monogamy. It is practiced by approximately 92% of the species. A female and a male share the responsibilities of building nests, hatching and feeding offspring.
The second most common breeding strategy, chosen by 8% of these animals, is promiscuous polygyny. A male mates with multiple females without forming a partner. It does not contribute at all to the construction of the nest. Surely some human behavior comes to mind. In these cases, males disregard the care of the offspring.
The third type of mating, polyandria, is practiced by 0.4% of birds. In this modality the traditional sexual roles are reversed. Females mate with multiple males throughout a breeding season. They let them incubate the eggs and take care of the young. This modality is frequent in coastal birds.
The last and rarest mating strategy is polyginandria. It occurs in less than 0.1% of all bird species. Females mate with two or three males, while males generally run vice versa. The female lays several eggs from different parents. Males form a cooperative nursery. They take care of all the chicks, whether they are yours or not.
The polyamor of the scribe
The champion of the polygynous strategy is the scribe of Smith. They have one of the strangest social breeding systems known among birds. Each of the scribes mates and copulates with two or three males to leave a single setting. For their part, males are not far behind. They mate with all the females that are shot. Free love at its best.
The males spend the day closely following the females with whom they copulate as many times as they can. They hope to dilute or displace sperm from other males. However, in each laying the eggs are always multiparental.
Well, and how much can the bird do that around with the most active sex life in the world? In a week of early spring, an average scribe will have copulated more than 350 times. As we said before: it is clear that they do not get bored.