What is courtship behaviour?
Courtship behaviours are displayed by animals which are seeking to mate. It is usually performed first by the male as a way of attracting the female animal and proving that he is the right choice for a mate.
Why is courtship important?
Courtship allows animals to:
- Identify members of their own species. Courtship behaviour is species specific, which means each species have their own courtship display (eg grebes dance as part of their courtship, peacocks display their feathers). It is vital for animals to mate with members of their own species in order to produce fertile offspring, that are able to reproduce and keep the species population going.
- Enter each other's personal space without causing aggression/fights. If an animal tried to immediately breed with another of its kind without any courtship behaviour, it may be perceived as aggression and would result in unsuccessful mating.
- Find a healthy mate to produce healthy young. Courtship behaviour is a way of showing off an animal's strengths and desirable qualities. A female would choose a male who appears healthy and fit, so that it would be worthwhile her investing her genes with his. For example, some birds would offer food or nesting material to their potential mate to show off their survival skills. This element of courtship is vital as it ensures that the healthiest possible young are produced and will keep the population of the species going.
- Synchronise breeding behaviour. Courtship is a way of animals signalling to each other that they are ready to mate. If a female is unresponsive to the male's courtship efforts it signals that she either hasn't reached sexual maturity or she isn't on heat.
Examples of courtship behaviour between birds
- Displays of elaborate feathers. This is done to attract the attention of the female birds and bright feathers indicates a healthy mate.
- Birdsongs. Some birds are capable of mimicing many sounds they hear in their environment, even including human sounds such as car horns. This is a great survival skill and…