Courtship Rituals: 10 Animals With Cool Methods To Attract Mates

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Courtship rituals are one of the ways that male animals do to get attention from females during mating season. Different animals have their own unique ways to win other males and get their lover. Some tactics are super cool while others are quite peculiar to some extent. Want to know what they are? Feel free to check out the courtship rituals from various animals below and let us know which one you think is most fascinating.

1Bald Eagle

image: reddit

Bald eagles take courtship very seriously, and both male and female participates in a dangerous act known as the “death spiral”. Two bald eagles will fly up high, lock talons, and get into a cartwheel spin as they free fall toward the ground. In the last minute right before they hit the ground, the two eagles will let go of each other. This is spectacular to watch, but sometimes their talons remain locked so both eagles hit the ground to their death.

When it comes to courtship rituals, bald eagles put so much effort into impressing one another. A male bald eagle would perform their flying skill by going up high and doing steep dives just like rollercoasters. To bald eagles, courtship is a way to either form a new bond or strengthen their existing bond. As monogamous birds, bald eagles mate for life and will only look for a new mate when their partner dies.

2Brolga

image: needpix

Dancing is one of the most common activities during courtship rituals for many animals, and brolgas have amazing performances. This bird is one of the most iconic and largest flying birds in Australia with a height of over one meter tall. Brolgas are monogamous, and they attract a mate by performing a mating dance. Sometimes one brolga dances to impress its mate while other times a whole group of a dozen birds dances together. In groups, they would line up opposite each other before beginning the dance.

Brolgas have very fascinating courting dances that involve bowing, half-wings opening, head-bobbing, shaking all over, and strutting. It begins by picking up some grass and tossing it into the air before catching them in its bill. Brolgas then jump up in the air with outstretched wings before doing their courting dance moves. After finding a mate, the breeding pair will build a nest in wetland areas and then take turns incubating the eggs. Some pairs last together for up to 20 years or longer, and they only seek a new mate after their partner’s death.

3Cordon-Bleu Songbird

Since they are songbirds, the males use their singing skills to attract females during the breeding season. Also, rapid tap dance is another performance that these cordon-bleu songbirds display to be coordinated with the song they sing. The tap dance is so fast that human eyes cannot pick up the speed. If you actually watch the video of them performing their courtship rituals, it appears as if the bird is jumping. With a high-speed video camera, you can see that the birds were doing rapid taps. The combination of their impressive performance and singing voice helps them to win over a potential mate. Both male and female cordon-bleu songbirds perform the dance, and they are monogamous.

4Greater Sage Grouse

During the mating season, males greater sage grouses choose an area known as “lek” where they display their courtship performance. A lek is somewhere with less vegetation so that the females can see the males elaborate their ability and skill. The ritual involves a male popping, puffing, and strutting while doing mating calls to attract a female. Also, the males gobble up the air to inflate pouches in their necks and rub their wings across their chest feathers.

The females usually lurk behind nearby sagebrush, observing every morning for days. A female then selects a certain male to mate with before flying off to nest in the surrounding sagebrush. She lays an average of 6 to 9 eggs per clutch to the nest on the ground. Sagebrush provides a hiding cover and sources of food such as fobs and insects for both the mother and eggs. The males do not take part in raising the young, and they are not monogamous.

5Hen Harrier

image: Rob Zweers

Sky dancing is the courtship ritual display of these graceful birds of prey. The male hen harriers will acrobatically rise then free fall and plunge repeatedly, somersaulting and spinning in the sky. Doing so is to display a male’s agility, prowess, skill, stamina, and strength to his potential mate. Once he finds a mate, the pair nest together on the ground in marginal grassland and open moorland habitats. Both of them choose their location very carefully to ensure safety and adequate food sources.

Speaking of food, hen harriers also have an extraordinary way to share food with one another known as “food pass”. The male usually looks for food, and he carries prey in his talons once he caught one. As he approaches the nest, he calls to the female and then she will rise to meet him. Once she comes near, she will somersault upside down to receive the food passing from the male’s talons in mid-air. How cool, right?

6Nursery Web Spider

A male nursery web spider has to be well-prepared when he wants to successfully find a female to mate with. He has to have a gift, so he has to capture a prey insect that he thinks she may like. Then he will spin a cocoon around the insect he caught tightly just like a beautiful and neat gift. This gift is sometimes used more than one time if the female is not ready to mate and threatens him away. He will use the same gift with another female until he finds someone who accepts his gift.

So when the female is consuming the gift he gave, the male then makes his move and mates with her. Some male nursery web spiders are tricky especially when it is time to look for a mate and they cannot find a gift. Then they will wrap inedible things like a small pebble to trick a female. The tricky males have to act fast in this case because she will attack him once she unwraps the gift and sees nothing.

7Penguin

There are 18 penguin species, and some of them have very interesting courtship rituals during the mating season. For example, male Adelie penguins choose a spot to build up a nest that looks as good as possible. The nest-building process usually needs items such as sticks and stones and other objects that they can find. When the female arrives, the male will show her the nest that has had built. Then she will inspect the quality of the nest by checking the quality, getting in, and lying down. One female penguin inspects more than one nest sometimes before she makes a decision.

As for the Gentoo penguins, they might have the most adorable courtship rituals among the others. A male Gentoo penguin will scour the entire rocky shoreline of their breeding site, looking for smooth and shiny rocks. Unlike the nursery web spiders, penguins don’t do tricks and they take their gift very seriously. However, a male Gentoo penguin may steal a pebble from a neighbor’s nest if cannot find the perfect rock. For some other penguins, they just do the calling and singing with each other as part of their courtship rituals.

8Pufferfish

Born as natural architects, pufferfish have incredible courtship rituals compared to other fish in the sea. Using their fins, pufferfish create a large geometric circle in the sand in order to attract a female during mating season. The males flap their fins as they swim along the seafloor which results in amazing and unique circular patterns. The fish itself is only 12 centimeters long, but the circle it creates can be as big as 2 meters.

It takes about 7 to 9 days for a male pufferfish to finally construct his circles to impress a potential female. Once the male finishes and is satisfied with his creation, he waits for the females to come and inspect it. If a female likes what she sees, then she will agree to reproduce with the males. The process begins as the female then lays the eggs in the center of the circle and the male fertilizes the eggs externally.

9Wahnes’s Parotia

The parotia takes their courtship ritual very seriously, and cleanliness also plays a part in that. A male parotia chooses a ground where a female can watch from above as he displays the performance. He then picks up all the leaves and trashes to make sure that the area is neat and clean. No matter how many times you throw the extra leaves into the ground, he will pick every single one out.

According to National Geographic, their dance moves are the most complex of any birds of paradise. The male begins the dance with a bow then he fluffs out his feather while shaking his head back and forth. As he moves, the 6 quills on his head play a part in making the dancing even more interesting to watch. The decision is all on the female who watches from above to whether or not to choose him. Males Wahner’s parotias are polygamous, and they don’t take part in raising the young at all.

10Western Grebe

Getting a mate is not an easy job for a Western grebe because the expectation and standards are pretty high. No matter if it is a male or female, the bird will not get a partner if it cannot “walk on water”. When breeding season comes, every single grebe starts to look for a mate to start a family. In order to attract and impress a mate, grebes will start a duet where one partner echoes the other’s activities.

The final decision comes when both of them can sprint across the water together; hence “walk on the water” performance. It takes a lot of effort to make between 14 and 20 steps per second to achieve such a display. After the success, the pair will mate, build a nest, and raise a family together in a colony. With so much effort put into the courtship rituals, it is not a doubt that Western grebes mate for life.

Related Post: Loyal & Monogamous Animals That Mate For Life