Photo: Dance of the Avocets

Two avocets standing in shallow water

Don Quintana / Flickr

Our photo of the day comes from California's Merced National Wildlife Refuge. As winter turns to spring in California, the birds and the bees are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing at this time of year; all those "the birds and the bees" things. Case in point, these gracefully gorgeous American avocets, (Recurvirostra Americana) captured in a postcopulatory display by photographer Don Quintana. Don writes:

Probably my most favorite mating display to watch is the display of the American Avocet. Black-necked Stilts share a very similar display with water splashing, mounting, cloacal kiss, and then a short dance where their bills are crossed. But the Avocet with its bright red head and curved bill just captures my heart. It's certainly one thing to take a stunning portrait of a bird but capturing behavior is just the icing on the cake! Whether it's dancing cranes, grebes running a top water, or American Avocets caressing afterwards, the mating display of birds is a must watch event. Each one has its intricate details, and fine beautiful moments. If you are out there taking photographs, now it's the time to watch for this behavior!

You can see more of Don's wonderful work on his Flickr page. Would you like to see your nature photo featured as the TreeHugger photo of the day? Join TreeHugger’s Reader Photo Pool on Flickr and add your pictures to the group.