Like most humans, many birds are monogamous. They will find a partner, create a bond, and remain with that same partner for the rest of their lives.
Most birds take their relationships very seriously and regularly strengthen their bonds through several courtship rituals and displays of affection. Some birds are even known to grieve till the point of death when they lose their partners.
Most of these birds remain together for most of the time after they form their union. They will do their foraging as a team and roost in the same place at night.
It is also common to find these birds sticking together while they join large flocks of the same species during migration.
Let us look at what you need to know about these birds that mate for life.
How Monogamous Birds Form Their Union
Monogamous birds often exhibit certain behaviors that mark the beginning of their partnership. These behaviors differ across bird species and depend on several factors.
In most birds, the male demonstrates his intention to a potential mate by bringing gifts such as food to the female. He might also sing to the female and perform several flight displays to woo her.
Once they understand, these birds often perform a nuptial flight together and groom themselves by preening each other’s feathers. As most monogamous birds engage in such behavior during nesting season, they will also mark their new union by building nests for their young.
Why Some Birds Are Monogamous
The effort to incubate eggs and care for new hatchlings can overwhelm a single bird parent.
Hence, some birds pair themselves to cope with the effort. Most birds will search for a suitable spot to build their nests together and search for relevant materials they will use in making the nest. It is common to find birds taking shifts with the eggs during nesting season. While one bird sits with the eggs in the nest, the other partner forages for food.
Many birds often return to their nest with enough food for their partner. They will also take turns in looking after their young ones. This way, they give newly hatched chicks sufficient protection from harsh weather and natural predators.
Birds That Mate For Life
Here is a list of birds that stay with one mate for life.
1. Macaroni Penguins
Like other birds of flight, penguins perform certain courtship rituals, which include bowing, preening, and unique vocalizations. These birds continue these actions even after they have paired, and this way, they strengthen their relationship.
Male penguins put a lot of effort into wooing potential mates because they outnumber the females, and females are also very picky for the same reason.
2. Black Vultures
Part of the black vulture’s courtship ritual involves partners soaring the skies together as they search for a suitable place to build their nests.
Black vultures are not only monogamous. These birds are highly territorial and also prefer the company of only their extended family. They are known to attack any outsiders who try to join their flock.
Albatrosses have a long and highly complex courtship ritual. It is pretty exhausting, as the females are highly selective.
An albatross often goes through this rigorous process before finding a willing partner. But once it finds a mate, they are paired for life.
4. Trumpeter Swans
Contrary to popular belief, swans do not mate for life. However, trumpeter swans do.
Trumpeter swans begin to seek out partners long before they are fully matured. They will always remain with their partners and raise their young together.
Some courtship behaviors include bobbing their heads and quivering their raised wings.
5. Bald Eagles
Courtship rites for bald eagles include a flight display that involves the locking of their paws and cartwheeling.
The birds also drop themselves from the sky while their nails are locked. But they will separate just before they hit the ground.
After they mate, both parents build a large nest. This nest weighs a ton and can be up to 13 feet deep.
Lovebirds seek potential life partners as early as two months after they hatch. Males take great care when working their charms because unreceptive female lovebirds are usually aggressive.
They will build their nest and raise their young after they pair.
7. Barn Owls
Unlike other birds, barn owls do not have complex courtship displays. However, you might find potential mates screeching and performing acrobatics while flying together.
The male will feed the female until she is big enough to incubate eggs before they mate. Pairs only remain together during nesting season and live separately for most of the year.
8. African Grey Parrots
Most species of parrots are monogamous, including the African Grey. Other than their special talking abilities, African Greys are also known to be some of the best monogamous bird species.
Once they reach the age of 3-5 years, they start searching for mates. When the male finds a perfect partner, they search for tree cavities in high positions where they can make a nest. Females lay about three to four eggs per clutch, and both partners remain together for life.
9. Atlantic Puffins
Puffins remain solitary most of the year and only seek out their mates during breeding.
However, pairs are known to return to the same nest every year. Atlantic puffins show affection by renovating their nests together and striking their beaks.
10. Sandhill Cranes
The courtship ritual of sandhill cranes includes the upright wing stretch and the horizontal head bump. It is also common for pairs to call in unison after they mate.
Sandhill cranes are highly social creatures that prefer the company of their extended family and even unrelated cranes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Birds That Mate For Life
Do Monogamous Birds Mourn Their Dead Partners?
Like humans, birds are known to express emotion. Many monogamous birds will mourn their dead partners for several years, and they often isolate themselves from the flock while they grieve and even engage in self-harm.
A few monogamous birds will also refuse to take new partners and remain single for the rest of their life.
How Do Birds Take Care Of Their Young?
Birds build nests for their young ones before laying their eggs, and they often take turns incubating the eggs till they hatch. Parent birds feed their young ones by regurgitating food into the mouths of new hatchlings.
The birds will store food in their crop, where they will partially digest it. This way, their young ones quickly digest their meal and absorb the essential nutrients they need.
Do Monogamous Birds Mate With Other Birds?
Monogamous birds are not entirely faithful to their partners, and male birds often seek other females besides their partners to mate with them.
Many females also raise young ones fathered by other males. However, monogamous unions last for life, and it is rare to find birds abandoning their unions.