Things that living beings do for love: Fly 100 miles; get rejected; fly another 100, get rejected again. And the cycle of rejection continues. That’s the lonely life of male pectoral sandpiper in Alaska, says the new study.
But some of them are so persistent that one male was found to travel more than 8,100 miles (13,045 km), attempted with two dozen different females, and yet got rejected all the time in over four weeks, according to researchers. Bart Kempenaers, the biologist at Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, says “They’re definitely trying hard to flirt and court. They are not successful, more like failed Don Juans.”
During summer, sandpipers move from South America to Arctic tundra (yes, you know it) for breeding purposes. Their sex “hormones” are high and crazy in the period since the females are fertile in the period, and these females only do it once or twice in a season. So, even if the males give out their mating call, they are rare. “Copulations are incredibly rare,” says Kempenaers, “So they have to try and try and try.”
Researchers did the study with 100 male birds as their subject and they did it in the breeding season of the sandpipers. Kempenaers explains, “It is the most extreme example of promiscuity seen in a living being yet.”
While studying the birds, they found that each bird travels 110 miles on an average between mating attempts. What’s more interesting is that on average, they travel about 1900 miles in total. They travel 40 hours without any break, flying with an average speed of 37 miles per hour.
But if they do succeed to mate, they don’t have any role for bringing up the offspring, according to Kempenaers.