What Are Different Types of Courtship Behavior in Birds?In most bird species, the female chooses a mate, while the males try to put themselves forward as the best candidates. Sometimes only the male bird engages in courtship behaviors, while sometimes the female joins in as a mark of acceptance. Courtship behaviors vary by species but usually fall into one of the following categories:
- Displays: While the females of many bird species are dull-colored for camouflage, males tend to have brilliantly colored plumage. This allows them to put on a display for females during mating season to attract their attention and show off how healthy and strong they are. If you have ever seen a peacock fully extending its tail feathers, that is one of the most dramatic forms of display. However, male birds do not only show off their feathers. They may also display body shape or sacs of skin, but the purpose is the same.
- Dancing: Birds hoping to breed may make intricate physical movements that humans interpret as dancing. Adept movement helps to demonstrate attractive traits such as good health, strength, and confidence. Sometimes the female observes while the male dances, but the female may also join in. Bill rubbing, head dips, and wing flaps are all movements that may be part of birds' courtship dances.
- Singing: In some bird species, a courting pair may sing together, but in most, only one of the couple sings, typically the male. Singing can demonstrate intelligence and maturity through the variety of songs and their intricacy.
- Providing: Some courtship behavior in birds allows the males to show off what good providers they can be. Instead of showy displays of avian virility, they show off architectural prowess by building nests for the females. They may also offer the female bird food to show a willingness and ability to care for her while she is incubating the eggs. Birds that have formed a pair bond may preen each other's feathers as a show of trust.