RENO — Now is the time of year when male wild birds begin to draw the attention of females, and these courtship practices can be as entertaining as they are complex, according to the experts at Wild Birds Unlimited.
Bird courtship displays are integral to mating and raising young. Female birds often choose suitors based on appearance, the ability to provide food, evidence that the male can build the strongest and safest nest and other characteristics.
“This is a fun time to watch the behavior of backyard birds,” said Jacque Lowery, manager of Moana Nursery’s Wild Birds Unlimited stores. “In some species, birds engage in behaviors that seem to parallel human romance.”
With some species, the male simply flies in front of the female to show off his luminous colors or unique markings. In others, songs are more important to impress the female with his musical repertoire. Some birds touch bills or groom each other during courtship. Male jays and cardinals often present sunflower seeds to their potential mates while mourning doves and mockingbirds fluff up their feathers and “dance.”
Originally, scientists thought that many birds, such as geese, swans and eagles, mated for life, seeking a new mate only when the original partner died. Recent research shows that some species are faithful to their pair-bonding only for a season, while others actually have multiple mates simultaneously. For example, after hummingbirds mate, the male will court another female. Male house wrens build multiple nests and let the female choose the one she prefers. Then, the male may try to attract another female to occupy one of his other nests.
Wild Birds Unlimited is located inside all three Moana Nursery in Reno and Sparks: 1100 W. Moana Lane, 11301 S. Virginia St. and 7655 Pyramid Hwy. For more information, visit www.reno.wbu.com.