How Birds Do It: The Mating Habits of Our Feathered Friends

Introduction: How Birds Do It – Overview of Bird Mating Habits

Birds are some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet. How they fly, how they sing – it’s all amazing. But one of the most interesting things about birds is their mating habits. Some people may find them strange, or even gross, but there’s no denying that they’re intriguing. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the more interesting mating habits of birds. We’ll discuss everything from monogamy to polygamy to necrophilia (yep, you read that right!). So if you’re curious about how birds do it, keep reading!

Monogamy in Birds

Birds are often thought of as being monogamous, but the truth is that monogamy is relatively rare in the bird world. Most birds mate for a single breeding season and then move on to new partners the following year. Some birds form long-term pair bonds, but even in these cases, extra-pair copulations are not uncommon. In fact, studies have shown that nearly all bird species engage in some form of infidelity.

So why do birds cheat? One theory is that it helps them to spread their genes more widely. By mating with multiple partners, birds can ensure that their offspring have a greater chance of survival. Another theory is that cheating gives birds access to a wider range of genetic material, which can be beneficial for the health of their offspring. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that monogamy is not the norm when it comes to bird mating behavior.

Examples of monogamous birds

Monogamy is a rare mating system in the animal kingdom, but it can be found in some species of birds. One example is the phainopepla, a small black-and-white bird that is native to the deserts of southwestern North America. The phainopepla is unusual in that both males and females sing, and the pair often engages in synchronized displays. This intimate bond between mates helps to ensure that both parents are invested in raising their young. Other examples of monogamous birds include the loon, albatross, and sandpiper. Like the phainopepla, these species form lifelong bonds with their mates and work together to care for their young. Monogamy provides many benefits to birds, including increased parental investment and greater protection from predators. As a result, it has evolved independently in several different bird families.

Benefits and drawbacks

There are both benefits and drawbacks to monogamy in birds. One benefit is that it helps to ensure that chicks are properly cared for by both parents. This increases the chances of survival for the young. another benefit is that it can help to reduce aggression and fighting between members of a flock. However, one drawback of monogamy is that it can lead to inbreeding if the same pair mates for multiple generations. This can reduce genetic diversity and make the population more vulnerable to diseases and environmental changes. Another drawback is that if one member of a pair dies, the other may have difficulty finding a new mate and may not reproduce successfully.

Polygamy in Birds

In polygamy, males mate with multiple females, while females mate with only one male. This system is also known as polygyny, where one male mates with multiple females. The term ‘polygamy’ actually refers to both polygyny and polyandry, where one female mates with multiple males. Birds usually mate monogamously, meaning that each pair of birds will only mate with each other. However, there are some bird species that engage in polygamy.

Examples of polygamous birds

In general, polygamy is more common in bird species that have a large body size difference between the males and females. This is because the larger male can defend more territory and attract more mates. Additionally, polygamy is more common in bird species that live in areas with a high density of potential mates. This is because there is more competition for mates, and it is easier for males to find multiple partners. Some examples of bird species that engage in polygamy include the Alpine Swift, Burrowing Owl, and Brown-headed Cowbird.

Some types of ducks, for example, often form large communal mating groups, in which several males compete for the attention of a single female. These harems can be quite large, with one female surrounded by dozens of males. Other polygamous birds include the black-faced babbler and the eastern rosella. These species mate with multiple partners over the course of a single breeding season. While polygamy is less common among birds than monogamy, it does occur in a variety of different species.

Benefits and drawbacks

There are several benefits to polygamy for birds. For example, males can father more offspring, increasing the chances that at least some of them will survive to adulthood. In addition, polygamous males often have better access to resources, which gives them an advantage in terms of reproduction. However, there are also some drawbacks to polygamy. For instance, because males are spread thin, they may have less time to invest in each individual offspring. In addition, females may be less likely to mate with a polygamous male if he already has a mate, meaning that he may miss out on potential mates. Overall, the advantages and disadvantages of polygamy vary depending on the species of bird involved.

Necrophilia in Birds

Some researchers believe that necrophilia, or the sexual attraction to dead bodies, may play a role in avian mating rituals. While there is no concrete evidence to support this theory, there are some intriguing pieces of evidence that suggest it may be true. For example, male birds have been known to copulate with dead females. In addition, male birds have also been observed attempting to mate with stuffed female birds. While these behaviors may seem strange to us, they may simply be the result of a bird’s natural instinct to mate with anything that resembles a female bird. In any case, the jury is still out on this one, and further research is needed to determine how birds actually mate.

Examples of necrophiliac birds

There are several species of necrophiliac birds, including vultures, crows, and kites. These birds typically mate with live partners, but they will also copulate with dead ones. For example, vultures often engage in “necking,” a form of foreplay that involves two birds rubbing their necks together. If one of the birds dies during this activity, the other bird will often continue to copulate with the corpse. In some cases, necrophiliac birds will even go so far as to kill their mates in order to have sex with them. While the exact reason for this behavior is unknown, it’s thought that it may be due to a lack of available mates or simple curiosity. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that necrophilia is not just a human phenomenon.

Benefits and drawbacks

While this may seem like a bizarre and grotesque behavior, there are actually several advantages to necrophiliac mating in birds. For example, because the female is already dead, she cannot reject the male’s advances or attack him during mating. This reduces injuries and fatalities for both males and females. In addition, necrophiliac birds often have larger clutches of eggs and higher hatching rates than non-necrophiliac birds. This is because the female is not able to move away from the nest or abandon her eggs, leading to a greater chance of successful reproduction. However, there are also some drawbacks to necrophilia in birds. One of the most significant problems is that it can lead to the spread of disease, as sick or diseased birds are more likely to die and be available for mating. In addition, because the female cannot reject the male’s advances, it is possible for the male to pass on genetic defects or diseases to her offspring. As a result, necrophilia can have both positive and negative consequences for bird populations.

Conclusion: A Fascinating Look at Bird Mating Habits

When it comes to mating habits, birds have some of the most interesting and complex behaviors of any animal group. From monogamous relationships to polygamy, necrophilia, and more, our feathered friends have an array of strategies for finding a mate. While some of these behaviors may seem strange or even gross to us humans, they are all part of the natural order of things. So, the next time you watch a flock of birds in a field or sky, take some time to appreciate how they do it!

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.