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Queer Birds

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Queer Birds

From VINE Sanctuary (Vegan Is the Next Evolution)
June 2013

Bruce Bagemihl’s 1999 epic opus of scholarship, Biological Exuberance, collated data dating back to the earliest documentations of animal behavior, demonstrating not only the everyday existence of homosexual behavior among non-human animals but also the extraordinary lengths to which scientists had gone to ignore, explain away, or simply suppress the ample evidence of that natural fact.

“Queer bird” is an old-timey expression for “someone regarded as eccentric or crazy and standing out from a group.” Back in the day, we certainly would have been regarded as eccentric or crazy, not to mention standing out from the scientific crowd, for suggesting that the birds and the bees might sometimes be “queer” in another sense of that term.

But the evidence is now overwhelming and uncontested by anybody not wearing blinders of bigotry: Birds and other animals routinely engage in same-sex affection, courtship, pair bonding, parenting, and —yes— sex. Bruce Bagemihl’s 1999 epic opus of scholarship, Biological Exuberance, collated data dating back to the earliest documentations of animal behavior, demonstrating not only the everyday existence of homosexual behavior among non-human animals but also the extraordinary lengths to which scientists had gone to ignore, explain away, or simply suppress the ample evidence of that natural fact. More examples have turned up since.

We now know that non-human animals construct their families and their sex lives in a plethora of ways other than the heteronuclear family we have been (mis)led to believe is the norm in “nature.” Indeed, as Baghemihl notes, the monogamous heterosexual lifelong pair-bond is relatively rare, except among birds.

But even among birds, a fabulous array of strategies — including three-ways, sex changes, and lifelong (but not necessarily monogamous) pair-bonds — have evolved to allow our feathered friends to enjoy themselves and make the most of their ecosystems without making the mistake of overpopulation.

Here are just a few examples:

Again, these are just a few examples. Here’s a partial list of the more than 130 bird species among whom some form of same-sex partnering has been documented. Stay tuned for more examples of the biodiversity of sexuality and, even more importantly, the implications of this for both social justice and animal liberation struggles.