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Amazing Bird Courtship Rituals

Updated on May 17, 2014

American Crow

Crows bow in their courtship.
Crows bow in their courtship. | Source

Mating Habits - Love is in the Air

Most birds do mate for life. That is with some exceptions. Some could be mainly monogamous, but sometimes go off with other birds. Then there are the ones that are polygamous and have many partners.

There are male birds that have more than one mate. They will have a whole harem and let them have nests on their territory. Then there are those male birds that just don't stick around at all. Female birds also can have their own male harems. It is unusual but it is true.

About 90% of all birds are monogamous. That is they stay with one bird at least most of the time. So there are about 10% of birds that are polygamous and have a different style of mating.



Attracting a Mate

There are different ways that birds attract a mate. Most people know that the birds sing to attract mates. The male birds may want to attract a mate and sing. They can then be answered by a female that also sings back to them. That is one way that birds communicate and mate. They are called songbirds.

Another way that people know is that many male birds have more colorful plumage than the females. It is their way of attracting attention. The more fantastic the bird is, the more attention it will get. That is for instance for birds like cardinals. The males are red birds and very prominent. They will display the feathers for the females to get attention. There are all different displays that go on.

Male birds can also dance for the females. They will put on a show and want to show the females which one of them is the best one. Another thing a bird can do is bowing. The American crow is supposed to bow over and over for the female bird. They mate for life, so they say.

Then there is another way the male birds have of attracting the females. They fly up and show them how great they are at flying. It is all to impress the females that they are the best catch that there is out there.

Other ways to attract mates are to have their own territory. The birds from several species that are male need to show the females that they are able to get their own space. Otherwise, they won't be able to build nests for the eggs.

Some male birds show the females that they are good at making nests also. They need to be really good at it, or they won't attract a female bird to come to them at all.

There is another way for the males to impress females. It is by having some sort of prey that they have to show they are a good provider. I used to hear that they would show the female a worm for them to have.

Then also I have seen that some birds get flowers and show them to the female birds. They have all sorts of displays that they make for them.

Swans Together

Swans in Germany
Swans in Germany | Source

Swans Mating

The male swans are supposed to shake their head to indicate interest to the female. If the female swan likes them, she will shake her head back then. Such begins the lovely involvement of the swans together. They will then entwine their necks and go on together.

Many of the swans mate for life. Bewick's swans are lifetime mates. They are soul mates.

Glamorous Birds - Battle of the Sexes - BBC

Wilson's Bird of Paradise


Different Ways they Attract Females

Birds of paradise and parrots are the most colorful of the birds. They attract attention just from their feathers. There is a question of what is the reason of it all. Some scientists agree that Darwin was right and it is just beauty for its own sake. The birds of paradise also do a dance where they turn upside down for the female of interest.

Peacocks have their tremendous plumage to show. The do a big display of it. Then they also have a dance that they do for a female peahen.

Widowbirds have their long tails that attract mates. They are a polygamous bird that has several females. The females all have different nests there. The females prefer the males with the longest tails.

Barn swallows are also attracted by the long tails of the male birds. The male birds with the longest tails are the ones that are wanted.


South Africa
South Africa | Source

Barn Swallows


Splendid Fairywren


Types of Courtships

African masked weaver birds are very fussy about what kind of nest the male bird has. If it is not up to their standards they don't want them.

The golden headed manakin bird wants the male that has the nest with a central perch. That is the best nest that they can have.

The superb fairywren does special flights for the female during courting. It also shows the female yellow flowers. It makes it a part of their display for the female.

The cock-tailed tyrant bird makes a steep vertical ascent flying up to impress the ladies. He is thought to be quite the clown.

Peregrines do aerobatic flights above the area where the female bird is to impress them.

Hummingbirds way of showing the female they are interested is by using flowers to attract and then doing dives, they also have a group of males get together and sing to entice the female to join them.

The roadrunner female is supposed to go off with the male bird if he brings her a lizard.

African Masked Weaver


Satin Bowerbird


Satin Bowerbird Nest

Bower Nest with Blue Findings
Bower Nest with Blue Findings | Source

Polygamous Birds

Widowbirds have more than one female. They can have several nests in their area.

Bowerbirds make their own bowers for the female birds. They take great trouble in making it just the way the females will like it to attract them. The birds make out better the more obscure the object is that they have in their nests. It impresses the females more. The gardener birds put flowers down on the floor. They will also bring a flower to a female bird. There are different types of bowerbirds.

There are no builder bowerbirds, the gardeners, stage builders, maypole builders and avenue builders. The satin bowerbird is an avenue builder. The bowerbirds will wreck other birds nests. It is part also of another ploy to show the females how tough they are.

The satin bowerbird makes a nest with blue objects in it. It can be all different types of objects. They even take bluing to put on the walls of the nest.

Once the bowerbirds have interested a mate then they invite them into the bower. Afterwards the female bird is left on their own. The male bowerbird will go looking for another female to show his nest to.

There is another bird that is a playboy type of bird. It is a little purple throated carib. It has flowers in its location that it uses to entice a female. It saps up all of the flowers outside its area so that the female will want to come it his area. Then it will let the female bird have the flowers as long as it can mate with her. Afterwards, the female is left to her own devices.

Cowbird female birds can have several different male mates. They leave their eggs in others nests.

Peacock Mating Dance

Scarlet Macaws

Scarlet macaws mate for life.
Scarlet macaws mate for life. | Source

Unusual Bird Mating

There was a chicken that had something very unusual happen to it. It was found to have changed. It had started acting like a rooster. This was all documented as the chicken was somewhere everyone could see it. It did turn into a rooster. It eventually was able to sire other chickens. This case was found to be true and documented in a scientific manner.

That was the report but it may not be true. Livescience says that a chicken can change to look like a rooster but it will still be a chicken. It is because of some changes happening. I have added a link to Livescience here.

Scientists think that other bird species can also do the same thing. There is not as much documentation on it because they have not been able to watch it happening as easily.

Lovebirds Courtship Dance

Swans and Cygnets



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