Several posts back I wrote about a blog titled If you could be any animal- which would you be? and I choose the Clark’s Grebe. Sherry asked me in the comment section to share a photo or video with everyone. It’s a little late but here it is.
People ask this question a lot- what animal you would be- and I always knew I’d be a waterfowl. Strictly because I would be able to swim, float, and fly all in the same day- and that just sounds perfect! But then I watched the BBC Documentary Life and I saw these amazing birds participating in an elaborate courtship display that ends with a synchronized dance seemingly on the surface of the water. It’s absolutely beautiful. At that moment I knew if I could be any animal this is the one I would be. Swim, float, fly, and dance- sign me up!
Birds in general use courtship behaviors for several reasons. Courtship behaviors include singing, displays, dancing, preening, feeding, and building nests. Obviously these behaviors are exhibited to attract a mate but each behavior allows the birds to learn about their potential partner. Songs help birds distinguish between species, they can also show the maturity and intelligence of a bird to a potential partner. Not to mention setting the boundaries of the birds territory. Displays- such as plumage colors, prominent feathers, or skin sacs can show the health of a bird. Dancing can also show health and experience. Daring dives, wing flaps, head dips, and intricate sequences may also help the birds form a bond. Preening proves there is no aggression between the pair, allowing close contact and more bonding. Feeding is a big one- the male can show his ability to take care of the female by bringing her a bite to eat. Building a nest is a way to claim territory, males often build nests before the females arrive- adding pebbles, moss, flowers, and more to make the home appealing. Of course there are variations to all of these courtship behaviors. Sometimes both partners will sing and dance, sometimes just the male will. The male may bring food to the female, he may also place it in her mouth as he would a chick. And many more variations exist.
Here is my favorite nest builder the Bower bird which I learned about from the same program.