One of the ways that birds find a mate is by dancing! In this activity, all your students will need to do one of six different dances, while looking for a partner doing the same one.



Many birds are sized up by prospective mates solely by certain visual clues. There are scientists who believe that female birds can deduce such things as the fitness of a male, his ability to parent, and the quality of a nesting site by either examining him or his territory. As a result, evolution has produced some pretty interesting adaptations to help males attract females, the first and most obvious of which is colorful plumage.

Birds have fantastic eyesight with a keen ability to discern colors. Their means of finding a mate is therefore, mainly visual. The majority of male birds develop specially colored plumage, called breeding plumage, in the spring. The Robin and his red breast are a familiar example that springs to mind. Similarly, the male flamingo will turn bright pink, and the male cardinal, a deeper red. Some birds develop more elaborate plumage than a simple color change, but it is not as common because it interferes with the bird’s ability to hide from predators. An example of this is the Peacock, a familiar example of a bird with elaborate plumage, uses his "tail of eyes" in a grand display to attract females.

Whether brightly colored or not, many birds put on shows called "displays" for females to try and get their attention. The majority of birds have quite simple displays such as raising the beak upwards or the flapping of wings. There are, however, other birds that have evolved elaborate displays when competition for females is great.

  Hunters & Hunted
  What's for Lunch?
  How's the Water
  Beaks are Tools
  Backyard Birdfeeder
  Shapes & Sizes
  Lift Off
  A Big Enough Wing
  Migration Hopscotch
  Sing Out Loud
  Virtual Incubator
Dance of Love
  On the Egg
  Becoming a Bird
  The Big Deal: The Feather
  Dead or Alive
  Are Birds Dinosaurs?

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