Last night we counted 300+ Black Skimmers in the colony. The beach was filled with couples walking, waiting for the full moon rise. Love was in the air.
Many of the Black Skimmers are now in pairs, and a number of them were mating last evening. I've read that their courtship rituals involve the male offering the female a fish, and if she accepts, they mate. While mating, she holds the fish in her mouth, and afterwards, she eats the fish. This evening I saw no males fishing, no offerings of fish, just raw sexual behavior. Was it sparked by the full moon?
Though I found reference to some animal species mating at full moon, the few references were related to horseshoe crabs and how the moon affects tides in relation to them laying their eggs on the beach and a vague reference to wolves being led to mate during full moon, but nothing about birds. There were a number of references to the myth of romance related to full moon, but I have to wonder, can myth drive all of the romance that I witnessed on the beach last night amongst the Black Skimmers and the humans? I'm inclined to believe not and to consider that there is still so much that we don't understand about this life. If the moon can influence the ocean tides, why then, would it not influence human behavior and bird behavior, as humans are made of up to 60% water and presumably birds a similarly high percentage? In an article titled "The Chemical Composition of the Adult Human Body and Its Bearing on the Biochemistry of Growth" published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 1945, Mitchell, Hamilton, Steggerda and Bean write that the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, the lungs are 83% water, muscles and kidneys are 79% water, the skin contains 64% water and the bones 31%.
As the sun lowered, the birds looked magnificent in the golden light at the end of the day.
I drove up the beach to try to catch the moonrise, and people were racing to docks on the intercostal waterway as the sun was setting. Couples were seated at the end of many of the docks. I parked the car and headed out to the beach where the moon would be visible. I caught my breath as I saw it rising, so full and brilliantly lit.
This is what I live for--these glimpses of joy, bliss, ecstasy that come from bearing witness to moments of beauty in the natural world, these moments of coming alive.