I observed courtship among holler birds beginning in mid-February this year -- first with northern cardinals, then doves and Carolina wrens -- but activity has intensified over the past few weeks.
My observations of breeding behavior among birds had been comparatively limited before I started maintaining feeders -- mainly songs, calls, and some phoebes and wrens that built nests close to my house. Yesterday, I managed to get photos of courtship feeding in pairs of cardinals and wrens.
When I saw a couple of Carolina wrens together on a porch step right outside my window, I fired the shutter as fast as I could, ending up with a few usable images. The first one below is the first one in the sequence, and shows what I think is the male of this pair feeding a small seed to his mate:
He then hopped down to find another seed. In the second photo, the female stands on the step with an open bill. At the bottom right edge of the image, you can see the male's bill and part of his head just before he hops back up to bring her another seed:
Later in the afternoon, a pair of northern cardinals engaged in the same behavior. In the photo below, the male has just given his mate a sunflower seed (visible in her beak):
At the same time, and a few branches up from the cardinals in the white oak tree, a pair of mourning doves sat near each other:
I couldn't tell if they were the same couple that sat on a post below one of the bird feeders on March 9th:
Or this pair in the same tree (and maybe the same branch!) on March 31st, just before an attempt to copulate (the photo I got of that was too out of focus to say for sure):
Late in the afternoon now, four to five pairs of doves come to feed together. Other species that have been around the feeders in larger numbers all winter seem to have spread out, and only one pair Carolina chickadees, cardinals and downy woodpeckers, along with two pairs of tufted titmice, continue to show up around the feeders every day.