When my cousin got married over 20 years ago, her wedding cake was very special. Instead of human bride and groom figurines atop her cake, she had a pair of swans, their bent necks forming a heart shape. I vowed then that I would also have bird wedding cake toppers when my day came. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten married yet, but if I do, I will have birds on my cake.
The question is: which bird species are the best examples or marital happiness ?
According to researchers at Stanford University, 90% of birds are monogamous. They define monogamy as “one male mating with one female and forming a ‘pair bond.’” Their definition does not mention, how long this “pair bond” lasts. It could last just as long as it takes for one brood to hatch; it could last all breeding season, or it could last a few seasons. That is all well and good for the birds, perhaps, but most of us humans want our marriages to last a bit longer than that.
So which birds mate for life? According to the article, they are “albatrosses, swans, geese, eagles, some owls and parrots.” Of those, of course, only swans are remotely associated with weddings. Doves, which are also big “wedding birds” are also monogamous, but only some couples stay together after the breeding season is done.
To find avian inspiration for a happy marriage, you may only have to look to your local pond. Canada geese are very strongly monogamous, staying together for about 17 years (after mating at age 3, they live to about age 20). They work as a team, raising several broods together, and can be very aggressive towards perceived threats to their eggs and goslings. They appear to show signs of grief after the loss of their mate, though many will “remarry.” So why aren’t geese “wedding birds?”
For one thing, they are not white. For another, they are not very popular. As I touched on briefly in “Pest Birds on Trial,” geese are not well-liked because of their honking, excrement and aggression. A quick search of the information highway uncovers many plots to kill geese that are becoming a nuisance in one park or another, and many clubs dedicated to saving them. While I cannot comment on individual cases--sometimes, culling is necessary to control dangerous populations--I can tell you that geese definitely need an image makeover. Human celebrities can improve their image. So why can’t geese? I think it’s time we rebrand them as wedding birds.
True, they might look odd on a traditional white wedding cake. But they would look great on a less formal pastry. Imagine a chocolate cake topped with these brown-and-black waterfowl. Or maybe you could have then as your special wedding guests. Just get married outdoors near a pond, and for sure some will crash the party. Imagine what sage advice about love, marriage and child rearing they could give if they could only speak.