Amorous Avians: Ways of Love in the World of Birds Photography by marie read.

Displaying Green-winged Teal strikes a dramatic pose to impress nearby females, showing off his namesake green wing patch, termed the "speculum".

Northern Cardinal feeds his mate in spring. Mate-feeding is an important part of courtship in many bird species, allowing the female to evaluate her suitor.

Courting Horned Puffins rub their colorful bills together in a behavior termed "billing".

Ruddy Duck drakes display to a female. At the peak of courtship the male performs the "Bubble Display" stirring up a froth of bubbles with his bill.

In a tightly synchronized dance, Clark's Grebes run across the water during "rushing", a display used for both courtship and territoriality.

Red-breasted Merganser drakes court a female with the "Salute-Curtsy" display.

A male Forster's Tern carries a fish as a courtship offering, during the pair's dramatic aerial display. The two birds may fly around in tandem for many minutes, sometimes calling loudly, before landing in the nesting colony.

"Hey Baby!" An Eastern Bluebird male performs a wing-wave to attract the female to a potential nest site.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker male bows to his mate near their nest hole in a tree trunk.

Amorous Royal Terns cross bills as they strut around each other in a dignified dance.

Paired American Oystercatchers walk along together giving loud piping calls during their courtship behavior.

Parakeet Auklets perform a duet of trills outside their nest site in a rock crevice.

Mallard drake makes a splash to get the hen's attention during the "Grunt-Whistle" display.

American Avocets perform their post-mating display. As the male dismounts after mating, he leaves one wing draped romantically over the female's back and crosses his bill over hers, then the two strut along in tandem for a few seconds before separating.

Killdeers bow at a nest site, paired Mute Swans share a touching moment, courting Sandwich Terns call loudly together. Avian courtship and mating activities are as varied as birds themselves, but the goal is the same the world over: togetherness and raising a family.

Wild Turkey toms often strut as a duo. Doubly impressive to females! But generally the dominant male of the two performs the majority of matings.

Nuptial plumes of a displaying Great Egret glow in the sun.

I hope you've enjoyed this look at the fascinating ways of love in the bird world, full of beauty and drama. To see more of my work please click on the links below:

Marie Read is a wildlife photographer, speaker and author of numerous articles about birds and their behavior. Her photographs appear regularly in nature magazines (including many covers), books and calendars worldwide. She has authored/coauthored several books including Into The Nest: Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting, and Family Lives of Familiar Birds (with Laura Erickson).


© Marie Read

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.