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10 Most Bizarre Bird Mating Dances

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought it’d be prudent to take a look at the mating dance of birds, which can range from the touching to the downright hilarious.

Flamingo

The flamingo mating dance is one of my favorites. They typically get into large yet tight groups and parade around synchronized. It’s beautiful and poetic.

Bird of Paradise

A male bird of paradise calls for a female and once he has an audience, he’ll spread his wings and do a jig while making snapping noises with his feathers. It’s quite a show.

Emu

The mating dance of the emu looks spastic. The female confidently runs around the male while making a drumming noise to tantalize the male.

Females are the more aggressive ones during mating season, and may even fight with others for access to mates.

Manakin

The manakin is a particularly showy group of birds found in Central and South America. They engage in elaborate courting dances that are often in groups. The Red-capped Manakin in the video above shows the males essentially doing the moonwalk.

Bowerbird

Of all the mating dances, I must say that of the bowerbird is one of the best. Not only does the bird have moves akin to an expert flamenco dancer but it also brings the female colorful gifts.

Albatross

Next up we have the albatross, which has a mating ritual that I would compare to a secret and overly involved handshake you sometimes see between two basketball players before a game.

Riflebird

The four species of riflebirds each have an interesting mating dance. The one in the video above is from a Victoria’s Riflebird. It can only be described as a fan dance.

Booby

That age old expression “flaunt what you’ve got” applies perfectly to the booby, particularly the Blue-footed Booby. These birds will do a small jig to show off their feet (which reminds of me this scene from Charlie Chaplin’s Gold Rush).

Grebe

A waterbird can really make its dance special, as these grebes can attest to. They perform a sort of water ballet that includes running on water and diving beneath the surface. It’s a marvelous sight.

Prairie Chicken

The prairie chicken would fit right into the “She’s a Maniac” video from Flashdance. The bird displays its feathers and does a rapid march where it essentially runs in place.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.