It’s a Bird’s World – Mating for Life

Love is in the air – twit twoo.

Yes, some species of our feathered friends prefer to stay together forever. Cue love hearts, romantic music, and cupid’s bow…

Oh, hang on!

As cute as birds choosing to mate for life may sound, the majority of them do it for practical reasons, over romantic ones.

So, what are the fundamental reasons why birds choose to stick to one partner and mate for life?

We all know that finding a partner takes time and effort – this is no different for many species of birds.

In actual fact around 90% of the bird species are monogamous. For many, their faithfulness only lasts during each breeding season, then they go in search of a new partner.

For others, they stick together forever – aw!

From ospreys to barn owls, read on to find out all you need to know about why certain species of birds choose to stay together whatever the weather.


Which Species of Birds Mate for Life?

Birds brighten up the skies with their flight patterns, cheerful chirping, and swooping.

Sitting out in your garden or park and bird watching can provide endless fun. But, when you see two birds together, does that mean they’re a couple?

Well, there are in fact several species of birds that mate for life. These include the osprey, golden eagles, white-tailed eagles, barn owls, and many species of swans and geese.

So, what makes these species of birds opt for a life of partnership, over the options to flit from mate to mate?

Staying together forever is usually down to practicality. Still, these species of birds seem to do a far better job of staying monogamous than many humans do.

Birds seem to have it pretty sussed out – they know that staying together has many benefits including a partner to migrate with.

They don’t have to go out and find a new partner to breed with – which means there’s no wasting time teaching a new partner how to care for their young.

So, which bird species are monogamous? Scroll down for my top picks on birds that choose to stay together through the bad times and the good.


White-tailed eagle

Taking the crown as the largest bird of prey in the UK, this impressive bird can be easily spotted by its brown plumage and noticeably paler neck and head.

When they reach maturity at the age of 5 or 6 they’re ready to find a mate.

It really is ’till death do us parts,’ as this species of bird commits to a monogamous relationship. They can live up around 21 years – talk about an old married couple.

Both the male and female work together to build their nest, which they then use for many years.

If one partner dies then the other will find a new mate and start the whole process all over again.


Bald eagle

As time passes by the bald eagle chooses to stay with the same mate, as opposed to finding a new one.

They often return to the same nest, and each year they add to it – so it’s kind of the equivalent of having a house extension.

With lifespans of around 30 years, the fact this species of birds mate for life is no mean feat.

On some occasions a mate won’t return to the nest – when this happens it usually doesn’t take long for the remaining bald eagle to find a new partner and to use the same nest.

They tend to have a strong sense of nest fidelity, which means that they like to reuse their nest.


Osprey

This impressive species of bird are expert fliers and hunters.

They also mate for life – in fact, they take great pride in reusing their nest year after year.

The male finds the nesting spot, they both collect the necessary sticks and materials to build it, but it’s generally down to the female to ensemble it.

This bird species aren’t big on partner switching – in fact, the only time they will find a new mate, is if their partner dies, or they have an unsuccessful breeding season.


Black vultures

Okay, so vultures tend to get a bad rep.

It’s safe to say that if you’re lost and in a bad way then you wouldn’t want to see one of these circlings above you.

But…they aren’t all bad.

As well as mating for life, the black vulture also has strong family bonds and make pretty great parents.

It’s common for them to feed their young for up to 8 months, then they often stay together until the next breeding season begins.


Mute swan

By the age of 2, these beautiful swans will have found their mate.

If it goes well then they will stay together forever (or at least until their partner dies).

But if the initial getting to know each other (breeding) period doesn’t go smoothly, they’ll ditch each other and go and off and find a new mate – ouch!

It’s the female’s job to find a good nesting spot, preferably in the shallow waters of a pond or river. While it’s the male’s job to fend off those pesky predators such as raccoons and mink, who’re after the eggs.

Known for their aggressive streak, mute swans are somewhat fierce opponents, so any predator that dares to cross them must be either super hungry or like living dangerously.


Barn owl

It’s not uncommon for this bird species to form an affectionate bond with each other.

The male takes his role of impressing his chosen mate very seriously.

From performing impressive aerial displays, such as the ‘moth flight’ – where they hover in front of the female with their feet dangling, to increasing their hunting game to show them they’re a great provider.

These birds often grow so close to each other that if one partner dies, then the other one will end up so depressed that they’ll die too – this is sad but also kinda sweet!

Although they usually choose the monogamous lifestyle, some barn owls just don’t get on.

If they find themselves squabbling and having an unsuccessful breeding season, then it’s not uncommon for them to ditch their partner and go and find a new one.


Which Other Animals Mate For Life?

Mating for life isn’t just a bird thing – nope, instead, there are many other members of the animal world that like to spend their days with a special someone.

Animals that mate for life include beavers – these monogamous pairings work together to raise their offspring, build the perfect dam, and protect their territory from pesky predators.

Wolves usually stick together – although the alpha’s known to stray from their partner. Each wolf coupling will usually have a yearly litter of pups.

Gibbens, which are a species of ape, generally conduct monogamous relationships.

They are prone to fallings out, and on occasion, they’ll leave their mate for a more preferable one.


More cool facts

Seahorses tend to be monogamous – okay, so they have a pretty short lifespan which doesn’t allow much time for philandering tendencies.

Like humans, seahorses like to flirt. They intertwine tails and dance together…aw!

It turns out that when it comes to lobsters the TV show Friends got it wrong – these snippy, sea-dwelling creatures actually like to play the field.

In fact, the male of the species has flings with a series of females – each of which lasts for around 2 weeks.


Birds The Word

When it comes to finding a mate for life, then penguins do it best. Not all penguins find their forever partner, but the lucky ones who do become devoted to each other.

Just like humans, not all penguin love matches work out – but the ones that do can be pretty much impenetrable, and penguins couples in captivity may end up in relationships lasting for over 20 years.

Penguins can prove that even in the animal world finding a mate goes beyond the breeding season and animal instinct. It can also be about companionship and forming lifelong bonds.


Necessity over romance

We all love a romantic tale – but most birds chose the monogamous life for more practical reasons.

Some birds do form a bond so strong that being without the other seems unbearable – more often than not they stick together to make their life easier.

Being with the same partner year-after-year means they’re readily prepared for the breeding season.

For many species of birds, finding a mate involves plenty of singing, chirping, and impressive flight performances. All of which is tiring work.

By staying with the same partner year-after-year they cut out these energy-draining activities. This is particularly good for large migratory birds such as geese, as they reserve energy for their long flight home.


Do Cardinal Birds Mate for Life?

These small birds’ romantic liaisons can often be as colorful as their plumage.

Much likes humans they’re capable of staying together forever – but they don’t always choose too.

Sometimes they choose to stay together in their nesting area, other times one will leave and not return. Basically, when it comes to mating, well, cardinals don’t think twice about switching it up.

And if their partner dies – well, like many other species of birds they waste no time in finding a new partner.

Talk about drama – these little birds should have their own soap opera.


Birds That Mate for Life – The Lowdown

When it comes to birds it’s not always a case of ‘love is in the air.’

The bird world is full of different characters, much like the human world is.

Some remain together forever, others stray, and some leave completely.

The difference is that birds are less likely to hold a grudge – for them, the choice to be monogamous is usually a practical one.

From the squabbling barn owls to lovestruck penguins, companionship isn’t always easy, but when done right, even for birds and mammals alike it can be magical.