It's twitterpatin' time again

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's finally spring in Juneau! For many of the creatures inhabiting our rain forest, this means it's that time of year again: twitterpatin' time.

Courtesy Of Joel Irwin
Courtesy Of Joel Irwin

That's right, Bambi-lovers young and old know that springtime is conjunction juncture, time for each to follow their animal instinct and start finding their flame. Let's observe some of our favorite critters in action -- perhaps they can impart something valuable to us.

Bald eagles reach sexual maturity between four and five years of age, at which point they are ready to begin the literal roller-coaster ride that is eagle dating. Potential pairs do a sort of trust flight where the birds chase each other, eventually locking talons for a final free fall, unlocking each other only in the final second before they would otherwise slam into the ground. Who knows how many times one has to land tail-feathers-first with the wrong suitor before a good match is finally made. Nevertheless, by early spring they will have become a pair committed enough to begin building a nest together. So long as they can avoid the temptation of cruise ship eagles from out of town, the pair will stick regally together, as long as they both shall live.

Black bear ladies, on the other hand, spend their summers seeing several different males and become pregnant with cubs who, though in the same litter, all have different fathers. Their black books must be just full of phone numbers.

Unlike many animals who stay close to home to find their mates, humpback whales go on seasonal vacations. Heading south for the winter to warmer waters, they will often swim for up to a month to reach the beach, fasting the whole time so as to look extra attractive in their swimsuits upon arrival. Competition for female attention is fierce. Groups of up to 40 male whales will escort one female, all the while trying with their hardest to establish dominance through a series of tricks. They'll spy-hop, tail-slap, breach, and even participate in singing contests to catch the lovely lady's heart.

However, for humans living In such an extreme climate with so many seasonal changes, the physical and emotional side effects of winter must be considered when it comes to mating and dating. Springtime lovin' in Juneau just has too much potential to be deficient. Alaskan humans are often still coming out of seasonal depression. Their skin is pasty, curdled, and otherwise unsightly. They aren't in their prime, but they often have the drive to work on themselves, to become desirable again.

Much like creatures who participate in hibernation, Alaska humans often spend the summers running around performing some sort of preparation for the coming winter, whether it's getting back in shape, working to supplement their winter income, or simply boosting their mood by getting out and enjoying the little bit of sunshine they will see for the year.

So perhaps the ideal time for us to unionize is in the fall, after a short, jam-packed summer season of personal betterment, physical improvement, and a growing sense of independence and confidence in oneself. Plus, when the snow starts flying it's the perfect time to cuddle up with someone. After all, twitterpation may also be the answer to saving a bit on the heat bill.

• Libby Sterling can be reached at

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