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Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Courtship Displays

Energetic and colourful courtship displays are used by many bird species to attract a mate and show readiness to copulate. These displays vary widely and include the use of colourful and ornate breeding plumage; melodious songs; energetic dances; and gift giving. Once a mate is chosen pairs may strengthen bonds using behaviour such as allopreening,...

Energetic and colourful courtship displays are used by many bird species to attract a mate and show readiness to copulate. These displays vary widely and include the use of colourful and ornate breeding plumage; melodious songs; energetic dances; and gift giving. Once a mate is chosen pairs may strengthen bonds using behaviour such as allopreening, and feeding each other.

Some of these displays are a sight to behold, and we were lucky to have submissions for a wide variety of species. Thank you to everyone that submitted photographs for this week’s theme; here we present the Top 25 photographs of courtship displays.

Lesser florican male performing a display leap in which the head is arched and the legs are folded, in Pradesh, India (Praveen K Bhat)
Brahminy starling male displaying for a female, he will sing, and stand erect while puffing out his feathers (Sandeep Beas)
Black-headed gull males will feed females as part of their courtship, as shown here in Surrey, UK (Edwin Godhino)
Lesser flamingos perform ritualised group displays involving small movements of the neck, head wagging, and broken-neck posture (Wishwas Thakker)
Male peafowl displaying his tail feathers to attract the attention of a female (Mann P Arora)
Laughing dove pair in Patiala, India allopreening; usually feathers that are hard to reach for an individual will be preened by its mate (Tarika Sandhu)
Green bee-eater displaying in Punjab, India (Baljinder Pal Singh)
Great egret displaying breeding plumage, males will choose the display area which later becomes the nesting area (J Bernardo Sanchez)
Mississippi kite pair feeding each other in Green Cove Springs, Florida, USA (Jola Charlton)
Pin-tailed wHydah male in breeding plumage coming in to land on a branch in Punggol Barat Island, Singapore (Ananth Ramasamy)
Sarus crane pair calling and posturing together, pairs will jump and bow together as part of the courtship display (Hitesh Chawla)
Atlantic puffins are monogamous; pairs will strengthen their bond upon returning to land by approaching each other, wagging their bills side to side, and then rattling their bills together (Anthony Roberts)
In waved albatrosses of the Galapagos Archipelago, courtship involves bill circling and bowing, and beak clacking (Dot Rambin)
Yellow-crowned night-heron males will display for females by raising and lowering their heads, and fanning their shoulder plumes (Teri Franzen)
White-bellied treepie pair in Thattekad, Kerala, India, preening each other (Shantharama Holla K)
Scaly-breasted munia males perform soft and complex songs in the breeding season, when a partner is chosen he will land close and bend towards her to wipe his bill (Baljinder Pal Singh)
Red munia male in breeding plumage in Uttar Pradesh, India (Vijay Madan)
Northern gannet stretching its head vertically, females will use this posture to let males know that they’re available for courtship, mated pairs will then engage in a fencing display using their beaks (Owen Deutsch)
Black-rumped flameback pairs will feed together, photographed here in Bangalore, India (Ramesh Aithal)
Grey crowned cranes are monogamous for life, and both males and females perform a courtship dance using bobbing and bowing movements as shown here (Edwin Godinho)
Ashy prinia calling to its partner (Vivek Sharma)
Male baya weavers will spend approximately 18 days building a nest, before it is complete he will hang from the nest flapping his wings and calling to passing females (Jasvir Faridkot)
Anhinga female, with male in breeding plumage. Males initiate courtship by soaring and gliding (Leslie Reagan)
Wood stork males are aggressive to females in the breeding season, once the female is accepted however the male will offer her sticks and preen her feathers (Jola Charlton)
Intermediate egret pair performing flap flight together in Haryana, India (Sanjay Solanki)

Our mission is to build a global community around the freedom and beauty of birds in the wild as ambassadors for the natural ecosystems that they depend upon. They are the music, decoration, and character of every terrestrial habitat on the planet and have been around since the dinosaurs. They are the witnesses and ambassadors of the awesome power of nature. The wide availability of good, cheap optics has opened their world to us for the last few decades. Amazing, affordable DSLR cameras with long lenses are delivering brilliant digital bird imagery to online communities.

We are in a day-and-age during which more bird species are threatened with extinction than ever before. The Wild Birds! Revolution aims to publish the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week” to 1 million people every week by the end of the year. That is a revolution that will change the world! Join thousands of other weekend naturalists, photographers, birders, experts, hikers, nature-lovers, guides, scientists, conservationists and artists that share the thousands of wild bird photographs submitted to the Wild Bird Trust website and Facebook page. Thousands of wild bird enthusiasts are going out every day to photograph our planet’s beautiful birdlife. Pick up your camera, fill your bird feeder, open your heart, and join the Wild Birds! Revolution!!

Edited by Laurie Johnson, Campaign Manager

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Migratory Birds 2

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Meet the Author

Steve Boyes
Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.