In Mating in Birds : Part I  Different types ( refer  we saw the different types and classifications of mating in birds. In this article we will see the different processes adopted by the birds to attract opposite sex.

On attaining sexual maturity it is imperative for the birds to mate . More so for the male as it is observed that a male who mates regularly has a longer life and remain healthy.

To attract the female the male undergo a lot of changes in habits/behaviours and also in anatomy. The various ways that a male serenades the female are as follows

Display ritual:

The male will woo the female though display  of Strength, Acrobatics, dance or  any form of physical prowess

“The Dancer”   :

An elaborate display that is in form of a dance is exhibited like in Sara crane and in Indian Peafowl. The Saras display is usually reciprocated by the female also. They flap the wings and let out loud mating calls as if to announce to the world that they have mated.

The Indian  Peafowl has a bunch of long tail feathers that it spreads to attract the mate . The tail feathers are also a liability as they are make the Peafowl easy prey to the predators. The tail feathers fall of in non breeding season and regrow in the breeding season.

The fantail also has a beautiful tail that it spreads like a fan and attracts its mate.

“The Acrobat” :

The passerines like Larks & Prinia have a mating display where the male does acrobatics in the air by flying and spinning and stopping mid-air to hover over the female. This kind of behaviour is also exhibited by redstarts .

In Raptors their is the aerial display. These aerial displays are often spectacular, especially birds which fly together over the territory and in the vicinity of the nest-site. They fly close to each other, and grab their feet while one of them turns onto its back. They may fall down together and then, they rise again but separately before to grab their claws again in the same way.   This can be seen in Eagles, Kites and Buzzards

Some of the heaviest vultures perform more simple flights, both mates circling, soaring and gliding together. They can fly one above the other for long time, and this flight is named “Fly in tandem”.


“Show Jumper” :

To exhibit their physical prowess , birds like Florican will keep jumping in their territory. each jump lasts few seconds with the bird jumping to a height of 2-3 meters.

This is repeated in a periodic manner after a few minutes. This occurs through out the day for the whole of breeding season. The female can judge the suitability of male  by the height and the call let out   and chooses the best genepool to mate

The Stolikza Bush chat has a “Puff and roll” Routine where it puffs it chest and walks towards the female showing his strength

“Show of Strength ” :

This is related to ” Female  Defence Polygyny” ( refer Usually the fight is for a group of females and the two prospective males fight over a female and the winner takes over the harem. Can be seen in Ducks, Pheasants and fowls

Gifting ritual:

The male will woo the female by presenting her with gifts of food and other things like material to build nests. The females will judge the best male by the ability to hunt and bring in the best of prey. Can be seen in many raptors like Falcons and in Cuckoos . This behaviour also assures the female about the care taking ability of the male when the hatching occurs.

Gifting of nest building material is exhibited by Storks and Spoonbills

Nest Building :

The male builds a nest for the female and exhibits his expertise in taking care of the family. This cane be seen in This is related to ” Location Defence Polygyny” ( refer  Weaver birds exhibit this kind of behaviour.


The nests are usually half built and the female selects the nest and along with the male completes the nest. Once the mating happens the male is off to build another nest for another female. In some cases the male builds several half completed nests to save time in wooing the females. The females choose the male basis the Food source and the security the area provides for the nest.


Anatomical changes :

Some males undergo a physical change in plumage and grow a few external parts to attract the females . The Cattle egret changes the plumage colour to red , while the Intermediate egret grows extra feathers. The pheasant tailed jacana has a long attractive tail

_51I4773-1 Cattle egret _51I8594-1 Intermediate EgretPheasant tailed jacana IMG_5012

the Knob billed duck grows a knob


The bigger, more colourful  the external part is, better the genes of the male , thus the female chooses its mate basis these criteria

Vocal repertoire :

All birds have a call. They use it for communicating , predator warning  etc. Some use it for attracting the opposite sex for mating. Displays are often accompanied by sounds. Calls and songs are usually uttered by males, from perch above the territory, but also from bushes or low branches at the boundaries of the area or very close.
Songs are used to attract females, but also as advertising sounds towards rivals. Then, the vocal sounds become softer and are used as communication between both mates.
The passerines use several calls and songs to attract females, competing with rivals in order to utter the most melodious song or the loudest call to impress a potential mate like the Singing Bush lark



Several species produce non-vocal sounds such as bill-clapping, wing-whirring or wing-flapping, hisses, grunts and others according to the genus. Example : Painted Storks

So next time you see a chick or a small fledgling  remember the whole process the parents had to go thru to produce such a beauty.