What is it that draws us to a romantic partner? Birds have lots of ways to catch the attention of a mate. Most cranes duet with prospective partners for years before they begin breeding. Crested Auklets of both sexes produce a pungent citrus perfume. And Blue-footed Boobies dance, showing off their feet to each other.
Seeds of Attraction
Written by Wenfei Tong
This is BirdNote.
What is it that draws us to a romantic partner? For birds, it might be a sweet song, compatible personality type, the right zesty scent, or outrageous dance moves.
The serenade of a male White-throated Sparrow prompts a response in a female sparrow’s brain that resembles that of humans listening to their favorite music.
[White-throated Sparrow song https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/280797451#_ga=2.82663633.675775384.16… :24-:26]
Most cranes, like these Sandhill Cranes, duet with prospective partners for years before they begin breeding.
[Sandhill Crane Duet https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/230432831#_ga=2.14515312.675775384.16… :25-:30]
For Steller's Jays, birds of a feather pair together. Couples in which individuals have a similar temperament, either both shy or both bold, tend to be the most successful at raising chicks.
[Steller’s Jay https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/172868791#_ga=2.82015441.675775384.16… :18-:22]
Crested Auklets of both sexes produce a pungent citrus perfume. Field biologists can smell a breeding colony from a boat as they approach.
Blue-footed Boobies, on the other hand, dance. The birds display their feet to each other in a ponderous pas de deux, a sort of dance duet. The bluer a bird’s feet are, the healthier the bird is.
Greater Flamingos that have a larger repertoire of dance moves are considered more attractive, and the best dancers tend to pair up. How typical.
[Greater Flamingoes https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/277052131#_ga=2.52189038.675775384.16…]
[Head-flagging: https://vimeo.com/250791388 / Wing-salute and twist-preen: https://vimeo.com/243857197]
For Birdnote, I’m Wenfei Tong.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Production Manager: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. White-throated Sparrow, ML280797451, recorded by J Mcgowan 0:05 - 0:35. Sandhill Cranes, ML230432831, recorded by S Sater 0:35 - 0:48. Steller’s Jay, ML56865, recorded by G Keller 0:50 - 1:02. Blue-footed Booby, ML127089, recorded by W Lee 1:02 - 1:28. Greater Flamingos, ML277052131, recorded by F Maia 1:28 - 1:45.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2021 BirdNote February 2021 Narrator: Wenfei Tong
ID# courtship-01-2021-02-10 courtship-01