SPOTLIGHT STORY

How to Flirt Like a Bird

From sexy dancing skills to flashy feathered outfits

Take some tips in the art of love from our flirtatious feathered friends...

Flirtatious ability: great dancer

Tall, flamboyant and beautiful, Grey Crowned Cranes were once considered the same species as the more northern Black Crowned Cranes (Balaearica pavonina). As with all cranes, graceful and spectacularly ballet-like dances form part of breeding and social displays. This species is listed as "Endangered" because populations have rapidly declined during the past few decades due to habitat loss and the illegal removal of birds and eggs from the wild.

Flirt rating: ⭐⭐☆☆☆

Grey Crowned Crane - from the collection of Australian Museum

Flirtatious ability: good at DIY

Great Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis) have highly evolved, complex courtship behaviour that involves the building and decoration of ‘bowers’, which are sheltered little dwellings. Males design and construct these elaborate structures to court females. The bowers are open or arched avenues of twigs and grass, aligned north-south.

They even decorate these little love nests! The floor and entrances are decorated with pale-coloured ornaments such as shells, bones, stones, glass and fruit. The walls of the bower may be painted with a mixture of saliva and plant material. Mating takes place in the bower and then females build a separate nest and rear the young on their own.

Flirt Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Great Bowerbird - from the collection of Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)

Flirtatious ability: wonderful singer

A lyrebird's song is one of the more distinctive aspects of its behavioral biology. Lyrebirds sing throughout the year, but the peak of the breeding season, from June to August, is when they sing with the most intensity. During this peak they may sing for four hours of the day, almost half the hours of daylight. The song of the superb lyrebird is a mixture of seven elements of its own song and any number of other mimicked songs and noises.

Flirt Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

Lyrebird - from the collection of Museo civico di Storia Naturale

Flirtatious ability: a sense of style

Peacocks have evolved their colorful plumes through ‘sexual selection’, or the female’s choice of the most elaborately decorated male. Peahens (the females of the species) are drab in comparison.

Flirt Rating: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆

Common Peafowl - from the collection of Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Flirtatious ability: wining and dining its partner

Everyone knows that the way to a lover’s heart is through their stomach! But courtship feeding also contributes to the male's own offspring by supplying additional nutrition to the female for eggs.

Flirt Rating: ⭐⭐☆☆☆

Eastern Bluebird - from the collection of Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Discover more from the weird and wonderful natural world in 10 Animals with Super Powers.

Explore the Natural History project here.

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