This article first appeared in The Advocate.
A pair of young male albatrosses were captured finding romance in the most recent episode of Sir David Attenborough's acclaimed series Frozen Planet II.
The avian romance took place on New Zealand’s Antipodes Island, an uninhabited subarctic island that is home to untold numbers of birds, including communities of wandering albatrosses. Attenborough noted how one 14-year-old male wandering albatross had sexually matured and was finally ready to find a mate. The unnamed virginal male soon found a suitable female candidate and began to woo her via a ritualized process of strutting and other movements. Things were going well, even getting to bird third base where the pair let it all spread out so they could compare wing size.
The process appeared headed for success, but then an additional suitor arrived. Soon, the new arrival was strutting and spreading his wings. And then a third male arrived, creating an unwelcome flock block for the first male. Showing she wasn’t that type of bird, the female flew off.
While the young male pondered where he went wrong, another bird circled and then swooped in, clearly liking the sight of the solitary young male amid the waving grass below. The pair hit it off almost immediately, and it’s not long before the two were comparing wing sizes and cuddling and grooming. The happy bird boys can be seen later sharing a nest and doting on each other. It could become a lifelong love affair, as wandering albatross are known to have long-term relationships lasting up to 50 years in some cases.
Attenborough noted that such same-sex romances are becoming more prevalent in the albatross community on the island, as females outnumber males by a ratio of 3-to-1. He attributed blame for the decline in the population of females to commercial practices in the females’ feeding grounds to the north.
The episode left open the question of the pair of love birds' future.