Last month one morning, shortly after sunrise, I was able to witness the intricate American Avocet mating behavior. I suppose you can say spring has sprung.
These two photos show the female in a submissive posture with her bill just above water line. When she gets into this pose, the male with which she has already formed a pair/bond, gets the signal and begins preening in-preparation, moving on both sides of the female.
After a few minutes of the preening, they mate. This is followed by a brief period where the male drapes his wing over the female, and they cross bills together.
It is an amazing sight to see, and apparently this ritual is repeated by most Avocet pairs. It is easy to anthropomorphize these birds when you see these behaviors and the tenderness that they seemingly show. There is much to learn about (and from) the natural world.