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Nature & You: How do lovebirds find each other?

Dating apps are all the rage on today's version of the internet. These computer tools facilitate the opportunities for people to find marital bliss.

Wild songbirds cannot avail themselves of these high-tech devices. Instead, these avian love birds more commonly have to fall back on ritualized behavior displays in order to entice a likely mate.

Cardinals are commonly found in most backyards. It is easy enough to distinguish the boys from the girls. I would encourage you to pay particular attention to the behavior that is displayed by these familiar backyard residents. The females can be seen fluttering their wings as they bow to an approaching male. The explanation of this odd display is that it is how the female requests the male place food in her mouth. If you came to the conclusion the female is simply too lazy to go get her own dinner, you would be wrong. Instead, the female is conducting a test to determine how good of a provider that male is. If she is suitably impressed, she will agree to establish a pair bond with that suitor.

All of us love-smitten folks will be celebrating Valentine's Day by week's end. You and your honey might want to cuddle up in front of your home's window and watch the antics of the cardinals that visit your home's backyard.

Happy holiday!

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center. His email is