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Parrots flocked to Amsterdam
 for kinky sex

Made or posted on Jun 22, 2018

seduction, ring-necked parrot in Amsterdam, spring 2017It’s a little surprising to see ring-necked green parrots courting and screwing in public on a cool, gray day in Amsterdam.

Aside from the northern latitude, however, they’re just doing what comes naturally in the big Vondelpark in the south central part of the city.

It’s tamely kinky by mammalian standards. Male parrots, like most birds, have no penises. At mating time, both males and females rub together the swollen orifices of their cloacas — the all-purpose poop-and-sex chambers under their tails.

Last year I was honored to photograph this session of parrot courtship and frottage occurring high in a tree in Vondelpark. Please understand that I was coincidentally testing a new telephoto lens, equipped with new technology that cancels out any shaking of the photographer’s sweaty hands.

The male’s polite seduction begins with hesitant glances and a dance familiar to observers of caged parakeets: The male repeatedly approaches and retreats from the female along a branch, madly bobbing his head and attempting to build consensus for what may soon occur. I suspect there’s also some cooing.

If all signals are go, he climbs atop her, she arches her back and moves her tail out of the way (I’m told), and a very brief rubbing frenzy ensues. See my sequence of pictures below.

animated GIF showing Phases of ring-necked parrot lovemaking in Vondelpark

To withhold consent, the female need only fly away or toss the male off her back. Her nonexistent shoulders make a very precarious perch, requiring the male, at peak activity, to spread his wings to keep balance. Then he edges away, deflated and needing reassurance.

Readers sympathetic with these playful, raucous Southern Hemisphere birds may wonder how they can survive outdoors in northern Europe.

It’s not so hard, apparently, in European regions  moderated by Atlantic Ocean currents. Amsterdam’s average low temperatures stay above 40° F eight months a year, and above freezing all year. London’s lows are even milder. Besides, many parrot species live in temperate parts of their continents of origin.

parrots on Monjuic hill, BarcelonaI’ve seen parrot settlements in the moderate climates of Barcelona as well as San Francisco, and an ocean-side colony in Rehoboth Beach, Del., probably killed off years ago by a bitter winter.

Europe is home for some 85,000 wild parrots, including 32,000 in the U.K. (2012 estimate). Ring-necked parrots from India, green-bodied and red-billed, have earned a reputation as invasive crop-eating pests in Europe, Turkey and Israel.  In Australia they have become invasive pests that, what’s worse, compete with native breeds of pest parrots.

A European study group called ParrotNet monitors wild parrots’ activity in Europe. A “heatmap,” at left, shows parrot hotspots  in the Netherlands as of 2015.

 

Imported parrot species gone wild up north

In Britain and the eastern U.S., authorities are cracking down on wild quaker parrots (a.k.a. monk parakeets) from South America. The birds’ big, baggy communal nests on power poles are blamed for electrical outages.

The New York area has an estimated 550 of the gray-faced, green-body quakers . And the San Francisco area has some 300 red-masked, green parakeets descended from the colony made famous by the 2004 film “The Parrots of Telegraph Hill.”

The kinkier part

Now we get around to the kinky reveal, involving birds that are equipped to fornicate more like people do. Nature gives penises to the male of only a few bird species — among them, ducks, swans, ostriches and the like.

The consequences for Daisy Duck are not always pretty — nothing like the parrots’ polite courtship I saw in Amsterdam.

I’ve seen crowds of male ducks gang-banging a beleaguered female in a municipal pond — even in Canada. You’d expect male geese would be even more overbearing to females. (Of course, who knows whether what’s good for the gander feels good to the goose?)

As with mammals, the duck organ seems ready-made for abusive, unwelcome penetration. And it’s far more elaborate than its human counterpart.

Here’s a YouTube video showing the explosive engorgement of a male duck’s twisty weeny. Trigger warning: Impressionable females intending to maintain a heterosexual orientation should not view this video!

Evolution meanwhile has empowered some breeds of female ducks with means for resistance. Their corkscrew vaginas twist in the opposite direction of the males’ spiraling willies — unless the female feels adequately frisky and relaxes her equipment.

The long view, says a Yale researcher, is that this female genitalia co-evolved with the kinky penises in an ongoing arms race “between the sexes over who is going to control fertilization.”

Species photo credits:

Red-masked parakeet by Mark Bittner; Ring-necked or rose-ringed parakeet by J.M.Garg for Wikimedia Commons; Monk parakeet by Cláudio Dias Timm for Wikimedia Commons.

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