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Courtship: ‘It’s all about finding a mate’

February 21, 2013
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

Estherville Good Samaritan Society residents Thursday saw a different spin on Valentine's Day when Emmet County Conservation Board naturalist Jenna Pollock gave a presentation on animal courtship, or "It's all about finding a mate."

Pollock noted a number of animal behaviors, some remarkably similar to the human species:

n Dancing.

Article Photos

Emmet County Conservation Board naturalist Jenna Pollock told Estherville Good Samaritan Society residents about animal courtship rituals Thursday.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

n Strutting.

n Fighting.

n Singing.

n Bellowing.

n Treating.

n Changing colors.

n Giving scented love notes.

n Building houses.

Gee, does that sound like Friday night at the local pub?

Actually, Pollock said animals look for some key characteristics in a mate, including health, strength and intelligence. She then outlined courtship rituals of a number of animals.

Pheasants

Pheasants will crow and flap their wings, and the male will bow to the female and fan his tail feathers. The female, if interested, will bow back. Pheasants are polygynous, with males gathering multiple hens into a harem.

Wild turkey

The turkey has an array of iridescent feathers, with the male often more colorful than the female.

During mating season the gobber will display its fantails.

Ruffed grouse

While not found frequently around our area, the grouse has a non-vocal acoustic display.

Their drumming includes a rapid, wing-beating display that creates a low-frequency sound, starting slow and speeding up.

Songbirds

Songbirds will serenade one another and male/female pairs will sing back and forth. They have acoustic variation and dancing and are monogamous.

Hummingbird

Males dance and extend their tail feathers, often diving after climbing as high as 60 feet. Females will build a nest to attract a male. After courtship the male leaves and the female maintains the nest and eggs alone (do you suppose it would be the DHS or DNR that enforces child support?).

Eagles

Pollock read Walt Whitman's poem, "The Dalliance of Eagles", as a preface to talking about eagle behavior. And, yes, eagles to interlock talons as part of their courtship ritual, performing aerial acrobatics. Eagles partner for life.

Deer

Bucks wrestle, and males usually mate with a female several times, guarding the female for several days. Deer are polygamous.

Hedgehog

Males run circles around females, vying for attention (sort of like guys cruising around the block in their cars?). Courtship ends in one of two ways - either the female gives in or the male falls down dizzy and the female makes her escape. (Sort of gives a different sense of the phrase, "last call", huh?)

Lightning bugs

Different species of fireflies will flash different patterns with females staying low in the grass. Males fly overhead, trying to locate the right signal.

Monarch butterflies

Males perch and patrol and females may become aggressive with each other. Males give chase, releasing pheromones. Monarchs tangle their antennae and connect at the abdomen.

Mosquitoes

Males buzz at 600 hz, females at 400hz, and together they buzz at 1,200 hz.

Painted turtle

Females receive a neck massage and males cuddle their heads. Males will also rear back on two legs to mark their territory.

Raccoon

Males will wander outside their territories and uncooperative females will chase males away. Raccoons may exhibit loud barking, wrestling, displays of strength and are polygamous.

Beaver

The beaver is monogamous and mates for life. Beavers raise their young together, keeping them in the den for two or more years.

Red fox

It's the female fox that selects a den and males bring the food. Dominant males may breed with several females and non-dominant males will breed with females in other territories.

Elephant

The male will court the female. There may be water fights and bundles of food presented.

Penguin

The penguin is loud and raucous. The male and female will bow to each other before they slide into the water together.

 
 
 

 

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